1: “Fight or flight” or “Pause and plan”?

As leaders and in life, how we show up is a factor of which part of the brain we are accessing, writes Dr. Daniel Friedland in Leading Well from Within.  Yesterday, we explored how when we are threatened or overwhelmed, the limbic system and other survival-oriented regions of our brain spring into action.

“When I get stressed and reactive, my wife likes to remind me that I’ve ‘gone limbic’!” Danny writes.

“While the threat may be physical, such as risk to life and limb, extremes of hot and cold, and starvation, nowadays it’s more commonly the psychological threats of stress and self-doubt,” he writes.

2: Danny contrasts this state of being with what happens when our physiological and safety needs are met. When this happens, we experience a sense of vitality. Next, when our love and belonging needs are met, we experience a sense of connection. Finally, when our need for self-esteem is met, we self-actualize and feel a sense of achievement and significance in our life. 

3: The triune framework of the brain maps onto Abraham Maslow’s structure of human motivation, writes Danny. “This three-layered structure of the brain, and its prioritization of safety over love/belonging and self-actualization, essentially explains Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. 

“In this hierarchy, Maslow places our need to satisfy our physiological and safety needs first (represented as ‘safety’ in the diagram), our love and belonging needs next, and then our needs for self-esteem and self-actualization, which I’ve lumped together here as the need for significance,” Danny notes.

Only when our safety and belonging needs are satisfied will we then be able to flourish.  

Danny’s insights have significant implications for leadership. 

As leaders, when we create an environment of safety, trust, and caring, we make possible a culture of active engagement, where our colleagues “are willing to go above and beyond, investing discretionary resources into the company and all whom they serve,” he notes.

More tomorrow!


Reflection: Consider different leaders or managers I have worked for in the past. Who brought out the best in me and why?

Action: Journal about it.

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