Next Level Visionary Leadership: Intentionally Aligning the Head, Heart and Gut

HomeBlogNext Level Visionary Leadership: Intentionally Aligning the Head, Heart and Gut

Being a visionary leader means you are motivated to guide your company or organization to reach its greatest potential.  This has you operating at a different level, with a view and focus that is unlike that of most others around you.

You are tasked with shepherding things into a more expansive direction, while also promoting buy-in and alignment in order to move through the necessary transition and the challenge that comes with it.

To make the decisions necessary for this to happen, it is essential to be able to tap into, understand and utilize the information gathered and processed by each of your three brains.

According to neuroscience, we have three brains, not one.  There are cellular structures in our head brain and in our heart and gut regions that are connected and share information back and forth.  In fact, in order to process the full extent of available information from our inner and external environments, it is essential to have both health and effective development within each of these three brains.  Up to this point, only focusing on what our head brains can access has left us functioning on, at best, one third of this obtainable information.

Interestingly, there is also a growing body of leadership literature that points to the fastest-growing, most innovative and best places to work as companies with leaders at the helm who have developed and tapped into the benefits of leading from their three brains.

So, what does this look like and why is it important for visionary leaders to understand this?

If you have spent any time at all in the world of leadership over the past few years, you will have heard words like “empathy,” “collaboration,” “workplace culture,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “employee experience.”

The current changes we have all been navigating have shifted us from the face-to-face experience of being with one another to a virtual and distanced reality where we are challenged to find ways to stay connected while being separated from one another.

All in all, this time has driven us to look more closely at our interpersonal skills and development and how it all affects our environments.  This is great thing, as both our strengths and weaknesses have become plainly obvious, both to us as individuals and as collective cultures.

Just as a diamond cannot be formed without pressure, we cannot move through real, sustainable change and towards improvement without discomfort, messiness and a break-down of old paradigms that no longer serve us.

The visionary leader, as I mentioned previously, is the one at the helm making the ultimate decisions about how both company direction and culture will look and how it will be experienced.

Moving forward, as one of these leaders, you will need to know how to create stability, trust, faith and real, human connection both in your immediate physical environments and from a distance.  This will call you to be more intentional than ever, and you will need to embody the necessary traits and truly develop them, not just practice them as an external checklist to accomplish a given goal.  In this new world, there is no “faking it.”

As a visionary leader, you are being called to rise to the challenge of bettering yourself within to improve the world around you.

When I first began coaching, I would have some potential clients question the ability to feel fully supported by a coach they weren’t meeting with face-to-face.  Not only have I always conducted client sessions virtually, I have also always done them over the phone.  This means my clients only have my voice to interact with during our time together.

There have been, even before the pandemic, very intentional reasons for this, on my end.  My auditory senses increase without the distractions of seeing or physically interacting with clients, and with this, my innate talent for reading patterns in language that lead me to better understand what is hidden behind the spoken word also sharpens.

Developing your Greatest Leadership Capacity Through Accessing your Brains and Inner Senses

Seeing where we can bring the findings of neuroscience and the three brains into leadership is something that has fascinated me for a while and led me to create the models and process I now take my clients through to help discover and develop their leadership capacity.

Let’s look at how this works.

The head brain is aligned with the concept of Cognitive Quotient or CQ (also referred to as IQ). Similarly, the heart and gut brains also have quotients that are used to measure our abilities to process and utilize information within and from these brains. EQ or Emotional Quotient is where we measure our heart-brain activity, and the gut-brain is measured in PQ or Percipience Quotient.

Humans have spent years studying and focusing on CQ. More recently, we have developed more of an understanding of the place and significance of EQ, but we have barely begun to look at or investigate the role of PQ in human potential and leadership. Interestingly enough, PQ is the arena in which visionaries offer the most value and greatest service within their roles.

As a visionary leader, you are being offered a new path. It requires you to develop all of your capacities to the greatest degree of their innate potential. It is not only the physical senses but other senses, as well, that you will need to become aware of and consciously develop in the years to come.

The 5 physical senses that we have – hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste – are all connected to our head brain. As previously stated, we measure the head brain information through our CQ. Therefore, what comes through our 5 physical senses is registered and processed through the head brain.

They say, when one of our senses goes away, the others become enhanced. We hone our skills when we can focus on them. In my example above about how I choose to engage with my clients, as I minimize distractions to my ability to listen at all levels, I maximize my value to those with whom I work.

Just as the head brain is measured through the physical 5 senses, there are 5 other internal mirror senses that we also have at our disposal.

Internal Sense #1

Inner Voice: this is the mirror to our physical sense of hearing. Just as we need to move from hearing to listening in order to understand and work with what our external auditory sense picks up, we must, too, develop an ability to distinguish this inner voice, which is tied to both our heart and guts brains (EQ & PQ), to hear and listen to what it has to share with us.

Internal Sense #2

Intuition: This is sometimes referred to as “inner sight” or insight. It is the mirror sense to external sight. This is our ability to “see” or know things that are not visible to the eye and even, at times, don’t align with rational understanding. This sense is often tied with the gut-brain, although there could be information that we collect through our emotional heart-brain center that plays into our intuition, as well.

Internal Sense #3

Emotional Touch: We have heard sayings like, “that sentiment touched my heart,” and “I was deeply touched by his kindness.” This speaks to the heart brain’s ability to internally feel the vibrational sentiment of someone’s words and actions. When we feel heartache or joy over a simple thought, without any physical interference, this is our heart-brain connecting vital information and sending us cues.  This applies to feeling the emotions of others, as well. The ability to truly practice empathy, for example, is only available to those who have open access to their heart brains.

Internal Sense #4

Inner Smell: There is that well-known saying, “I smell a rat!” This speaks to our specific sense of identifying where things are not congruent or on the up and up. When we sense or “smell” danger, this is our fourth internal sense letting us know that we are picking up critical information that we need to acknowledge, process, and consider. This inner sense is associated with the gut brain.

Internal Sense #5

Discernment/Inner Taste: In order to develop personal boundaries, we must grow our fifth sense of discernment. This is when we say things like, “that experience left a bad taste in my mouth,” and “that isn’t really my taste in clothing style.” Simply recognizing what we like and don’t like, personally, or what is comfortable or uncomfortable for us is not enough. Acting on discernment allows us to create a safe place for ourselves and others. With clearly set rules of engagement, everyone knows what to expect and the parameters within which to interact. The ability to create and sustain safe and secure environments is one of the top traits desired in leaders according to recent polls.  When we actively develop our level of knowing and acting upon our own discernment, we are allowing our gut brain to inform and guide us.

Understanding these inner senses and how to develop them changes our understanding of our own capacities and their impact on how we interact, innovate, influence and lead.

While magnetism and the ability to inspire others is a part of a visionary’s leadership style, the primary objective of a visionary leader is to impart purpose (why) and create passion for it. Visionary leaders have an inclination for being intrinsically guided, and they use this quality to convey their message and invite others to subscribe to the potential they see is possible.  Becoming a more “brain” aligned leader will help increase your abilities to do what you do naturally in even more effective ways.

Visionary leaders who pay attention to current issues and needs (both your own and those of others) can gain the buy-in and commitment of those in your company or organization.  Having the information to recognize and understand the current priorities that need to be addressed is vital. Learning to access and utilize the details gathered by each of your 3 brains and internal senses helps you to do this.

As a leader, you might be facing attrition issues, decreased morale due to restructuring and a lack of a proper organizational structure. To have what you need to encourage others to commit to the vision you hold, it will be necessary to address these issues from the vantage point of knowing how to gather essential data through each of your brains and internal senses. As you understand more of the full picture, it will be easier for you to lean in and make finding a solution for these issues a priority.

Whether we realize it or not, failing to solve core problems can make reaching the ultimate vision incredibly challenging.

It’s always important to improve and embrace personal growth.  The best way we can do this is through support to become aware of what we cannot see and don’t know.  Whether this means working with mentors, coaches or other leaders who have gone through similar changes and challenges, it’s best when a visionary leader is open to critical feedback, tools and strategies to discover and work with what is, in order to bring their best value to the company or organization that they are there to serve.