Are You an Attentive Leader?

As a leader, you channelize the team’s attention. A recent research in neuroscience says that attention can be subdivided into three categories—on yourself, others, and the external world. If you introspect on your actions and others, you gain emotional intelligence. When you note the happenings around you, you can strategize and bring forth innovative solutions. In this article at Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman talks about the three types of attention a leader must make use of.

3 Types of Attention a Leader Must Have

A leader must be aware of your surroundings. You must know your strengths and improvement areas.

  1. Awareness of Self and Its Control: Insula and amygdala provide signals of right or wrong to you. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio of Southern California University terms these signals as “somatic markers.” As a leader, you must combine your experience and gut feelings for better decision-making abilities. It is also important to consider others’ opinion about you, especially people whom you treasure. Moreover, a good cognitive control enables you to deliver the required work ignoring distractions and controlling your emotions in crises. Psychologist Walter Mischel says cognitive control is of three types—the ability to shift focus from the desired object, the capacity to resist getting distracted, and the skill to imagine the positive outcome of that focus.
  2. Empathizing with Others: Empathy builds relationships. As a leader, you must focus on three types of empathy—cognitive, emotional, and concern. Cognitive empathy lets a leader express in a way that people understand with clarity. Emotional empathy comes through turbulence in the amygdala, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex. These help you to feel what others are going through. Tania Singer, director of Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, reveals that you need to be in tune with your own feelings more before understanding others’. When you are a concerned manager, others’ feelings and needs are echoed in you. However, empathic concern is about controlling your emotions while catering to others’ needs. Also, it is easier for an empathetic leader to adjust to a new environment because they have higher connections between the social hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. This also helps build connections with the influencers in the company. This ability diminishes as you go up the corporate ladder, though.
  3. Universal Knowledge: A good leader will have a good knowledge about external affairs to help form futuristic strategies. It helps you to exploit your current framework as well as explore new avenues. Though it has become difficult to innovate with everyone accessing the same information, a leader gathers all the relevant details. It is followed by constant switches back and forth between problems and vision while keeping an open awareness about new knowledge. A spike in the gamma rays in your neural networks means the leader has a new idea or strategy.

To view the original article in full, visit the following link: https://hbr.org/2013/12/the-focused-leader

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