The "toggle" - how leaders can use this technique to build wellbeing, for performance

These are particularly challenging times. We might be stressed. We might be afraid. We might be worried.

If you’re a leader or a manager, you’re probably feeling the pressure of “soldiering on” to ensure the ongoing viability of the organisation. But, it’s critical to attend to the needs, fears and concerns of your direct reports, as well as to address critical business challenges. Leaders need to attend to wellbeing, for performance.

The problem is that these two things require us to activate different parts of our brain. One part is the analytic network (AN) and enables task focused attention, and the other part is the empathic network (EN) and facilitates reflection, compassion and connection. To be an effective leader, we need to use both.

So how do we achieve the right balance?

Be aware of your “go to” network.

Ask yourself, “How am I processing things at this moment? Am I thinking about facts, details or solutions? Or am I reflecting more openly?”

Exercise the network that isn’t your “go to”.

One way to exercise your AN, is identify a situation that requires a new approach. Do some research. One way to exercise your EN is to schedule a conversation each day, where the purpose is to understand the person, and not to solve their problem or give advice.

Practice balancing both.

Be clear on your intention, and when you need which network. Be open to the benefits of each.

The two networks are in a constant battle in your brain - when one is activated, the other is suppressed. You need both, and the key to being an effective leader is being able to seamlessly toggle back and forth, as necessary.

Reference: HBR The Best Managers Balance Analytical and Emotional Intelligence (Smith, VanOosten & Boyatzis, 2020)

At MYNDLY we use psychological science to build wellbeing, for performance. We provide evidence based solutions for individuals and organisations.

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