As a change practitioner, how often do you listen to your three brains?
Neuroscience research has shown that we each have three fully functioning brains. Our head (cephalic) brain is best suited for creativity, logic, and problem solving. Our heart (cardiac) brain serves us best when accessed for passion and compassion. And our gut (enteric) brain is the source of courage and self-protection. The vagus nerve is the communication channel between the three brains. 90% of the brain signals traveling through the vagus nerve are traveling up; only 10% travel down!
Why is this important to us and to our profession? Because all too often we (and even more so the leaders we serve) see change through a cephalic brain lens. Our methodologies lay out a reasoned path through change. Our leaders seek the information they need to make rational decisions. There’s a belief that our change communications successfully lay out the case for change everyone will be on board.
Except that is not how change works. Your CEO is leading a critical transformation initiative, but everyone knows “his heart isn’t in it.” You “know what the change plan calls for”, but you can “feel it in your gut;” something is about to go off the tracks. When you visit certain parts of the organization, you can “taste the fear.” All three of your brains are working, whether or not you allow yourself to listen to—and even more importantly to believe—them.
Successfully navigating the really tough changes that our organizations are facing requires an approach that engages all three brains by the organization’s leaders, by change practitioners, and by those throughout the organization who are expected to change. In “Change Leadership: Why Your Head, Heart and Gut are Critical to Listen To” I introduce the three brains. More importantly, I provide a sequence for applying them as leaders thank about, decide on, and move forward with significant change initiatives.
How can you strengthen your approach to change to incorporate the three brains? What role can you play in helping ensure that the leaders you serve are not only using all three of their brains, but using them for the roles each is best suited to play? Finally, how can you become better at effectively applying your three brains as a change practitioner?