In an era of constant organizational change, where industries are collapsing, massive layoffs are happening left and right, and quiet quitting is trending, resilient leadership has become the linchpin for successful organizations. As businesses face unprecedented challenges, leaders who can adapt, learn, and grow in the face of constant adversity are in high demand. But how can a leader develop such personal resilience and is it even possible to do so? This is where neuroscience in the realm of leadership kicks in – an emerging field that studies the brain's role when it comes to handling stress and overcoming obstacles. Studies have shown that there are physical differences between the brains of people who demonstrate more resilience compared to others. Developing resilience has also been linked to the concept of neuroplasticity, or the brain’s capacity to change and adapt in response to experiences, learnings, and other life factors.
Having established that enhancing brain plasticity can boost personal resilience, here are five practical brain hacks that leaders can incorporate into their daily schedule to become better leaders of their organization and overall better people:
1. Take a Pause to Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
No matter how busy life can get, there will always be time to be mindful and meditate. Studies show that regular meditation increases the gray matter in the brain which is responsible for processing information, as well as strengthens the corpus callossum which allows both hemispheres of the brain to communicate more effectively with each other. By incorporating just 10-15minutes of daily mindfulness or meditation, leaders can build resilience, reduce stress, improve focus, and develop a greater sense of control while navigating through constant organizational and social changes.
2. Get the Blood Pumping
Physical exercise has long been linked to better cognitive function and brain plasticity. Engaging in regular aerobic exercise, such as running or swimming, can increase the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supports the growth and maintenance of neurons. Whether it is a 20-minute run on the treadmill, high intensity training at the gym, or a low impact yoga class, a consistent exercise routine can help leaders become better equipped to handle stress, become more resilient with constant change, and improve their overall well-being that will make them better leaders for their organization.
3. Always Learn Something New
Committing to lifelong learning is another powerful way to improve, neuroplasticity and develop resilient leadership. By challenging the brain with new information and experiences, leaders can stimulate neural growth and create new connections making it stronger and more adaptive. Learning can vary from finding a different commute to work, trying out a new recipe, to picking up an instrument, and learning a new language. Business leaders who embrace a growth mindset and invest time in expanding knowledge within the scope of their industry and outside are better prepared to navigate the waters of constant organizational change.
4. RSVP to That Dinner
With hectic work schedules and increasing social obligations, it is easier to cancel dinner plans with friends and family to catch up on other commitments. However, strong social connections are crucial for building resilience and leaders who cultivate a supportive network of family, friends, and colleagues not only provides emotional support but also facilitates the sharing of ideas and problem-solving strategies. Stay connected by sharing a meal, scheduling video calls or even just tagging each other on inspirational quotes or funny memes. By nurturing these relationships, business leaders can foster an environment of trust and camaraderie, enhancing their ability to lead in constant change.
5. Find Gratitude in Unlikely Places
Finally, practicing gratitude can improve mental resilience by fostering a positive outlook and strengthening emotional intelligence. Having a gratitude mindset can also facilitate in cognitive reframing which helps build personal resilience as it teaches individuals to reframe negative experiences in a more positive and adaptive light. Leaders can use a gratitude journal, a gratitude jar, or even incorporate it in their mediation practice. By acknowledging and appreciating the good things in life on a daily basis, leaders become more resilient, more attuned to opportunities, and better equipped to handle adversity to handle organizational changes in a constantly changing environment.
Resilient leaders lead healthy and happy organizations. As a leader, developing one’s resilience is a critical skill one should hone to stay ahead in a constantly changing business landscape. By incorporating these five brain hacks into one’s daily routine, leaders can enhance their neuroplasticity and develop a more resilient mindset. Whether through mindfulness and meditation, regular exercise, lifelong learning, nurturing social connections, or practicing gratitude, leaders can empower themselves to navigate change and foster a healthier work environment that promotes success and well-being for themselves and their teams. By prioritizing their own resilience, leaders can lead by example and inspire their organizations to thrive in the face of adversity.