Good leaders align their actions with their values. Inspiring leaders embody their values, vision, and commitment. Furthermore, they can do so even when under pressure. The key to becoming this type of inspiring leader requires building a muscle memory in the body.
What does the body have to do with leadership?
Current neuroscience tells us that while we may believe we are choosing how to behave cognitively, our rational mind plays a limited role in our behavior. Approximately 95% of our behavior happens from the unconscious. When you couple this with how neuroscience also tells us the fastest way to affect change in yourself and in others is through both your body and your presence, we have powerful information about how leaders can become more empowered and impactful by wielding their body’s intelligence.
Call to mind an inspiring leader you know or see in the world. Are they:
Slow to judgment?
Known for cultivating good relationships?
Known for finding solutions or accessing creativity under pressure?
Demonstrating loyalty to their team?
In their presence do you feel:
More at ease?
More capable of being your best self?
Seen in their presence?
Motivated to contribute?
How is it that we pick up on these things?
We all have neural pathways that operate below our conscious awareness, often based upon patterns from the course of our lifetime. We can retrain ourselves to become aware of these habitual patterns that derive from our body and our current muscle memory. We can then slow ourselves down enough to disrupt the reactive and unhelpful patterns to become more responsive and aligned in our values and preferred behaviors. Additionally, the impact is authentic and helps to create an intentional presence, embodying our preferred impact, and thereby inspiring others to do the same.
Think of first responders, or soldiers, or anyone who excels in life-or-death moments. Their heart slows down, they can immediately access flow and creativity, they become keenly aware of everything, they can make the most serious decisions immediately and with conviction, pushing back on anything that stands in their way, and their body is fully engaged at all times. It’s not just their unique skills, it’s the body being aligned to their values, integrity, and commitment. They’ve learned the physical cues that tell them how to show up in those crucial moments and their muscle memory kicks in immediately. While much more dramatic than many of our everyday leadership scenarios, the biology, physiology, and neuroscience are similar.
When we learn to slow down and listen to what our body is telling us we can interrupt unconscious patterns and move from being reactive to being responsive. This result requires building a new muscle memory, which requires daily practice. The benefit of this work can manifest in all areas of your life.
“Tender enough to feel
Present enough to witness
Humble enough to listen
Courageous enough to act
Accountable enough to change”
Jim Loehr, a performance psychologist, and Tony Schwartz, a corporate executive, stated in their article for the Harvard Business Review 2001, Making of a Corporate Athlete talk about how executives need to take care of their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual capacity in order to be effective. They said, “Of course, even corporate athletes who train at all levels will have bad days and run into challenges they can’t overcome. Life is tough, and for many time-starved executives, it is only getting tougher. But that is precisely our point. While it isn’t always in our power to change our external conditions, we can train to better manage our inner state.”
The fastest and most effective way to these solutions is through the body.
Join us in an online course from the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies to learn more about how to create these changes in your body, life, and your leadership.
Body Intelligence: Leadership's Untapped Resource
Dates: February 15, 2023 to March 22, 2023
Time: 3:30pm-5:30pm EST
Upon successful completion, participants will be able to:
Understand the intelligence of the body and access a centered state of flow.
Recognize the information transmitted through the body in order to increase awareness, sharpen clarity, and enhance skillful action.
Modulate our presence to meet the needs of a given situation
Shift from a reactive state to a responsive, skillful state while under pressure.
Apply new skills to strengthen relationships with self and others.