Leadership – Feeling Decisive?

27th April, 2016

Business and institutional leaders in fast paced environments can (whatever level of seniority reached) find themselves making reactive choices that appear effective in the short term, but can on reflection prove to be unwise. Even within the realm of strategic planning where all efforts appear to be proactive and future facing, selected ways forward can at times be lacking in true ecology.

You may have had times where decisions have been both critical and complex and perhaps you have been torn between what you perceive to be external evidence and internal instinct. It is possible at these times, that you have experienced conflict between your thoughts, feelings and actions. Perhaps you have also noticed these patterns within your team.

Have you ever found yourself not acting upon or sabotaging your own ideas and plans? Do you sometimes fail to change unwanted behaviour and you don’t quite know why? Or perhaps you have occasionally felt like something is missing and you’re not fully connecting your professional role with the person you truly perceive yourself to be?

All and any of the above have clear impact upon both motivation and achievement. There are of course many decision-making tools and models residing within traditional leadership programmes and management practices. Many will offer new ways of assessing and analyzing what we know aiming to make our responses simpler.

How would things change however if we were to develop our “way of knowing”, what additional information might emerge if we began to approach decision-making in an entirely new way?

Much as learning to learn accelerates the learning itself, turning our attention to the way we construct our epistemology, can transform our approach to decision making. The opposite of taking an objective stance, how might placing ourselves right at the centre of the decision shift our connection with the implications of the choices we make?

We have all heard stories where all the rational data pointed to option A and yet the person at the center of the tale intuitively chose option B… and… it turned out, rightly so. Those moments when our subjectivity is trusted over and above the evidence presented demonstrate the impact that our humanity has upon our choices.

…and yet often at times when decisions are most complex and significant, we seek to de-personalise the process. In attempting to “stick to the facts” we delete our own physiological data and fail to acknowledge emotion as real information.

To illustrate…

Here is a provocative coaching approach I sometimes use with my clients.

Client X has a highly complex and emotive decision to make in order to move forwards.

I ask them to distil it into a simple yes or no… an option A or B… a stick or twist. This generally is met with resistance and can appear flippant, but we can usually find two options, which on the surface seem to compete equally in terms of attractiveness / disdain.

In NLP terms one option at this stage might be to work with a technique called parts negotiation to explore and resolve potential values / beliefs conflicts. Another option, which more closely aligns to the field of mBraining is to begin to open up channels of communication with their wider “self”.

Next I take out a coin and ask them to assign an option for heads and tails… after all if the facts really are equally matched a coin toss offers a practical and fair mechanism. I toss the coin and the choice is made. Simple.

But it isn’t that simple!

The exercise is not about making the choice. The important information lies within the physiological response the client has when the coin toss result becomes clear. How do they feel and what thoughts arise as a result of these feelings? Were they happy with the result or not? Did they even care or was there a relief in not having to choose? All of this is data and whatever the response their nervous system provided, there will be clues as to how they are using their wider intelligence. Working with this information will increase the likelihood that their future decisions will be wise and come from a place of coherence.

We then spend some time breathing and reassess!

It really is time to become more coherent and establish some new (and revisit some ancient) approaches to decision making. Wisdom practices have always championed the value of somatic intelligence and neuroscience is now catching up.

Increased emphasis upon corporate social responsibility and a growth in social enterprise means now more than ever making pro-social, pro-environmental choices directly impact upon sustainability and collective success… Meaningful decisions have to come from a place of mind / body alignment, the days of keeping feelings out of business and trusting solely rational data are passing. Applied neuroscience extends somatic and emotional intelligence enabling true connection between thoughts, feelings and actions.

In reality we know about as little about the brain as we do about the cosmos… that said we will all have experienced times when we feel unease about a choice we have made or on the flipside the clarity that comes when a decision is a “no brainer”. Our understanding of the brain, whilst in it’s infancy is growing and we now know that the neural pathways capable of processing complex information extend far beyond the three pounds of grey matter situated within our heads.

We are each familiar with the sensations we experience within our body when gut instinct kicks in, or when we feel disheartened. These very real indicators of bio-feedback originate from a distributed brain with multiple intelligence centres. Feelings of dissonance and incongruence do not happen by chance, our nervous system in responding to our environment, providing information about the current state of play and the options we have available to us.

“Thought” (at least as it is understood in the 21st century) seems to occur throughout our body – the choice to pay full attention to it (or not) is down to us.

Which is more valid and attention worthy?

An idea in your head, a desire in your heart, or a feeling in your gut?

Alignment is the key for moment to moment wise leadership. When rational and emotional information compete and conflict we miss the point… asking do you trust your head, your heart or your gut is a redundant question for the wise leader… when surely all three is the obvious choice.

But how?

Are you aware of imbalances occurring within yourself, your team and your organization? Are you bringing the highest expression of who you are to the role you fulfill and the life you are living?

Neural network interpretation, validation and sequencing are some areas mBIT (multiple brain integration techniques) can assist, happily we can learn new ways of knowing, enabling wiser choices and an appreciative acknowledgment of purposeful existence. When asked did you bring your full self along and did you make a difference… most of us would hope to answer yes… and that means relating with things personally!

If you want to know more about connecting with your wider intelligence let’s talk.

Our 2 Day in house mBIT Leadership Decision Making Programme for you and your team will enable your organisation to truly access aligned decision making.

Executive coaching incorporating mBIT will provide you with clear techniques to access wiser choices from a place of coherence.

Our 4 Day mBIT Certified Coach programme will qualify you to assist others in accessing their multiple intelligences.

More information about mBraining is here

About Lizzi Larbalestier

Professional Blue Health Coach, mBIT and NLP trainer specialising in coastal coaching. Creating meaningful conversations, facilitating action and change for the results that you deserve. #bluehealthcoach #oceanempathy #bluemind