It’s all about that threat …

threat2We continue to learn amazing things about our brain. You know, the organ that makes all decisions, that processes all experiences, stores all memory and ascribes value to every activity and possession. Through digital imaging, scans, and virtual reality, we can simulate any experience and map what neuropathways are stimulated. We can now conclude that the brain’s default disposition is to process everything from a threat perspective first. It is not to value love, relationships, creativity, business collaboration and innovation. In other words, we are not inherently designed to do great things despite having an infinite capacity to do so. We are designed to protect ourselves from emotional, financial, corporate, intellectual and physical threats,  and will do it subconsciously without hesitation.

For a business leader who desires collaboration for her team, or innovative solutions to a constantly changing competitive landscape of threats, the traditional approach, given our understanding of how the brain works, is simply outdated. If the solution lies in people with brains to collaborate in a setting that is inherently filled with threat. then the “game-changing” solution, which the brain is fully capable of discovering, is compromised. A place of work is filled with threat – obvious and not so obvious ones. The threat of losing one’s job if a mistake is made, the threat of perception of your role/title/skills, the threat of offending the person responsible for the mistake or root cause, threat of the outside-work reputation with family and community, etc. These inherent threats in the workplace can no longer be ignored or left to employees to navigate through. This approach has led to random successes, unsustainable emotional and physical stress, and a powerful cultural force to maintain the status quo and resist change. From a neuroscience perspective, the default neuropathways of “protect thyself” are being reinforced everyday.
As a leader, you must start your leadership model with this basic truth. It is not appealing to the good in us or our strengths that yields powerful results. It is the fierce less elimination of all these threats. This week, as a leader, ask your team what their threats are? Make a list of them.  Let go of the notion that a leader’s job is to have the best idea. Instead, it is to stand a post like a soldier on top of a tower, identify incoming threats, and work tirelessly to remove them.  This kind of leader is irreplaceable!
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