When world-class athletes or performers prepare for an event, it is easy for an outsider to see the physical preparations. Athletes are on the track constantly, musicians are practising non-stop, and dancers are twirling and working their bodies to ready themselves for a performance. But, what about mental readiness? Leaders may be physically ready (reports printed and copied, models built, etc), but if you don’t focus on your mental game, you may lose before you even begin.
In Leadership is Upside Down, mental readiness refers to the ability of a person to create a balanced psychological state in which he or she can perform optimally. If you are mentally ready, you have the capacity to focus, self-manage and you have a healthy degree of internal discipline.1
There are three components to mental readiness in the
i4 Neuroleader Model:
- Confidence gives leaders the ability to make better decisions and impacts how they work and relate to others.
- The ability to focus provides leaders with a more stable mood, increased performance, and an ability to recall more information.
- Leaders who fail to plan will fail to perform. Mapping out a strategy and then executing it allows leaders to perform at higher levels.
IT’S ALL ABOUT PERFORMANCE IN THE BUSINESS WORLD
Business people aren’t really that different from top athletes, musicians, dancers or artists. For anyone to succeed at the highest echelons of their field, they must be physically and mentally prepared. The same goes for leadership--you’re expected to perform even if conditions are difficult and demanding, and even when things happen which are out of your control.
The “old ideas” regarding performance management focused on individual performance, and appraisals were doled out by a hierarchical superior. Many organisations will need to rethink the processes and tools they use to reimagine themselves in the Imagination Age. New thoughts on performance management include focusing on team performance and using peer-based assessments which allow exploration into an employee’s learning journey.2
There is a difference between intelligence and mental readiness. All the knowledge in the world won’t automatically translate into results. Neuroscience can help leaders strengthen the integration between body and mind, build balance in their brain and hone mental health alongside physical health. Higher levels of performance equate to higher levels of productivity, more harmonious environments and greater efficiency.3
The leader who is in the highest health of mental fitness
HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL READINESS?
It takes some effort to prepare yourself for sustained high performance. Everyone
is expected to do more with fewer resources, but consider these tips to increase
- Wean yourself away from technology. While having a cell phone may be necessary for work, digital devices can negatively impact your sleep. Develop a bedtime routine which doesn’t involve reading your phone or device to increase mental readiness and performance.
- Analyse your failures and then move on. It’s easy to dwell on past mistakes and to relive these moments over and over in our minds. Instead, adopt the mindset that failure is to be expected, and change those failures into opportunities for growth.
- A little preparation goes a long way. You wouldn’t try to run a marathon without training, so why would you try to jump into an important meeting without preparing? Running around unprepared might make you look busy, but it’s probably a waste of everyone’s time.
- Celebrate the victories, no matter how small. No matter how hard we try, humans simply aren’t robots. We can’t run indefinitely as if powered by imaginary batteries. Our physical and mental health will eventually suffer, and our performance will decrease. Stopping to celebrate your victories will improve conditions for yourself and everyone working around you.
Neuroscience has shown how wonderful and resilient our brains are. Using a leadership method based on neuroscience can help build your mental readiness by expanding your capacity to focus and self-manage. Increasing your confidence will improve your performance and create a happier, healthier way of life.
1. Damiano S, Cubeiro JC, de Haas T. Leadership is Upside Down: The i4 Neuroleader Revolution. About my Brain Institute. 2014.
2. McLennan K. Building Australia’s Future Today: Australia’s Transition Challenge to 2030. What is Leadership? 2018.
3. McLennan K. Building Leaders for the Imagination Age: The Case for the i4 Model. About my Brain Institute. 2016;1. [White Paper].