Neuroscience of Leadership Speaker Trainer

Good Leaders Manage Stressors, Bad Leaders Become Stressors

According to scientific research, giving stress is a highly effective way to reduce it.

Leaders can pass their anger and frustration on to their followers. Bad leaders, bosses, and managers are toxic stressors in the workplace. They cope with stressors by making their employees’ lives miserable. Such aggressive behavior gives birth to a poisonous culture.

Stress is an inevitable result and a direct cause of poor leadership. Reducing workplace stress through resilience training shifts the responsibility from leaders to employees. It is counterproductive because no one has unlimited tolerance for mounting stress resulting from poor leadership.

We often talk about stress in the context of health, such as the various illnesses it causes. We rarely talk about it in the context of leadership.

Stress causes uncertainty, fear, and inaction. It can come either from internal conflicts within an organization or external challenges. Lower-level and middle-level managers bear the brunt of tensions much more than those at the top of the hierarchy.

Scientific research has shown that we need control, predictability, and progress as psychological safety signals to feel at ease. How do leaders avoid making other people’s lives more miserable in an increasingly chaotic world?

Unpredictability and lack of control are the major contributors to stress.

The better a leader can create a sense of predictable outcomes and a sense of control within a business or organization, the less the stress will be. Higher productivity and less burnout are the desired results of Neuroscience-powered leadership strategies.

Most Requested Workshop: Neuroscience-Powered Leadership Training: How Good Leaders Mitigate Stressors to Beat Burnout ~ Explore the top five psychological safety signals we need to handle life and work stressors.

Neuroscience Shows that Predictability Reduces Stress

In a 2016 study, volunteers played a video game that involved turning over rocks on a computer screen. Some rocks had snakes under them. If the volunteers turned over one with a snake under it, they received a painful shock. After learning the rule through trial and error, there were fewer shocks, and measured stress decreased. Stress levels were much higher when volunteers couldn’t uncover predictable rules and received shocks randomly. The more predictable the shocks were, the less the stress, despite still being shocked.

Predictability affords you enough time to develop coping mechanisms to handle stressors.

Planning, training, and rehearsal effectively increase predictability and improve performance. For example, before the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound, detailed scale models were created of the site based on satellite images. Navy SEAL teams and mission planners studied those models closely. A broad range of scenarios was planned and rehearsed. The result was a successful raid despite a disruptive helicopter crash as it began. It is difficult to imagine a more demanding situation, but predictability and familiarity helped the SEAL team accomplish its mission.

Having a Sense of Control Calms Followers

With control, we can influence the outcome of a situation.

Continuing uncertainty causes high levels of stress-related hormones. A critical study in 1986 exposed volunteers to painfully loud noises. Volunteers attempted to control those noises by learning how many times pressing a button would shut it off. On different days, they could control the noise or not be able to control the noise. The researchers monitored volunteers’ stress hormones. When control was possible, levels of stress hormones were significantly lower despite the continuing obnoxious noises.

Develop Coping Mechanisms with Neuroscience

Equipped with scientific knowledge, leaders can provide followers with more control and predictability. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology giants Google and Twitter quickly announced that their employees could work remotely for 6 months. As the pandemic worsened, both companies extended their return-to-work dates.

In the chaotic environment, these two companies gave their employees well-needed certainty.

At every level of the leadership hierarchy, leaders and managers can help people feel more in control. In the past, leadership depended on trial and error and anecdotal experiences to find solutions to complex problems. Sometimes, those solutions work, but often, they do not.

As our understanding of human decision-making advances, we no longer resort to the old ways of developing new leaders or guiding leadership.

You and your executive team will benefit significantly from having guidance from a seasoned Neuroscientist who understands both business operations and the science of human behavior.

Dr. Terry Wu is a highly sought-after speaker and consultant on the Neuroscience of Leadership. His insights have empowered and enthralled millions of people. His ability to translate complex science into relatable stories and actionable practices is unmatched. Your business or organization will thrive in these uncertain times by working with him to craft proven, customized solutions.

Becky Amble Terry gave an excellent presentation today on the Science of Stress Reduction. He explained why leaders should understand the impact of stress on their decisions and their followers’ decisions. Our audience really appreciated the insights he shared. And because Terry is a neuroscientist, he actually talks about the science, not just Band-Aid ideas that don’t really work. His idea of reducing stress by doing positive instead of thinking positively is a breath of fresh air. Get in touch with Terry when your organization needs to understand better how to mitigate stress for your employees and improve their productivity. ~ Becky Amble, Marketing Leader and Philanthropist
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