Neuroscience for Leadership – Dr Tara Swart

Sheer Bliss not only attended but also provided massages for the Neuroscience in Leadership Conference at Turbine Hall on 25th May 2017.  The event was absolutely incredible, an absolute must for any leader wanting to tap into the fascinating brain science of any staff, colleagues and your own potential.

Dr Tara Swart is a neuroscientist, leadership coach, award-winning author and a medical doctor. She works with leaders all over the world to help them achieve mental resilience and peak brain performance, improving their ability to manage stress, regulate emotions and retain information.

The Business Results Group hosted the event and ensured that there was no plastic, we were given glass water bottles and could refill at water stations throughout the day.  The food was all brain food recommended by Dr Tara Swart as well as shots of her brain power smoothie and massages were available in the breaks. No cut flowers at this event, there were Olive trees on the tables and these went to loving homes following a draw at the end of the day – overall an environmentally friendly and fabulous day of thinking and learning.

Insights from the event

Our brains are wired to work on these main pathways Motivation, Creativity, Emotions, Intuition, Physicality and Logic. Every decision is based on emotion and the brain cannot function at it’s best when we are tired, in pain or unwell; the brain will prioritize function for the downfall.

Each of us have more dominant pathways mentioned above so once you know what yours are or what the people around you have as most dominant pathways you can establish if asking them to do something goes against their natural pathways, having this information can help you find the right people for the job.

People us two decision making systems; Cortex thinking ( learning by instruction) and Limbic thinking (Learning by experience) This is where we will make decisions based on what we have learned by gathering data and create a reflective or rational decision or base our decision on a feeling. In this exercise we were shown colours written in their own colour, Red, Blue, Green etc. When asked to read them out it was easy, until we had to read them in the colour they were written Red, Blue, Green. The brain recognizes that something is not right and this is relevant when we are asking someone to do something that might cause a discrepancy.

The brain cannot multitask, not even women! Rather switch between tasks than try to do more than one task at a time.

The Top 7 Emotional Drivers for happy staff
  • Feeling Valued
  • A feeling of being treated fairly
  • A feeling of being “in the know” and listened to
  • A sense of involvement (belonging)
  • A sense of personal growth and development
  • Belief of the employers honesty and purpose
  • Feeling safe (Job security)

Establishing trust in the workplace can start with less screens and more eye contact, talking to coworkers in person rather than emailing in the same office. Looking someone in the eye and listening to what they have to say.

Our brain chemicals affect how we feel and how we respond to various situations. Cortisol is the hormone for stress and to wake you up each day. When we are stressed and our cortisol levels are high, our immune systems are lower, we see a weight gain in the abdominal area and it actually spreads to other people! Having a stressed out leader can have a massive impact on an organisation, taking a day off to de-stress or using meditation or massage to increase the flow of happy hormones like oxytocin or dopamine to lower cortisol levels.

Working through stress will not help as the brain sees constant stress as needing to slip into survival mode. Presenteeism is twice as expensive as absenteeism. The solutions are medical help in some cases exercise,  talking, journaling, yoga/meditation, expelling negative emotions and taking magnesium supplements – the body leeches magnesium during stress.

Nutrition

More serotonin is produced in the gut than the brain so eating good foods will not only increase energy levels but make you feel happier, our brain uses 25% of our energy and that is why we get so hungry studying. Dr Tara Swart recommends this brain  power smoothie to increase brain power.  She is a huge fan of Omega rich foods such as Salmon, nuts, seeds and slow burning foods as well as taking supplements.

Over all the day was incredible and it is impossible to fit so much information into one post. read her book Neuroscience for Leadersip to get the full scoop.