I am particularly intrigued by the recent research being conducted in the world of neuroscience. We are learning more about our brain and how it functions everyday (not just when something goes wrong with it). I believe this body of knowledge is particularly relevant to leadership and to families running businesses together.
We know for example that when we recognize someone for a job well done that their brain releases a chemical called Dopamine. Dopamine rewards us with a sense of pleasure. Likewise we can also experience a downward spiral in our confidence and performance when we do not receive positive feedback over a long period of time.
We also know that our brain receives and processes negative comments and rejection in the same way as it receives physical pain. The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is not true as far as our brain is concerned.
For me the most exciting aspect of this research is that it provides the evidence for why leadership development is so critical for the next generation of leaders. Leaders are not just born, they are also developed. Some of the executives and business owners I have worked with in the past have needed proof of why good leadership principles work. For those less relationship oriented personalities, the new discoveries in neuroscience are providing the evidence they need to lead in a more powerful and effective way.
We are all hardwired with our own special recipe…and none of us are put together with 100% perfection. We are each born with unique capabilities and capacities. Our differences are sometimes surprising because we share the same gene pool.
Bella and Tarra remind us that we can still get along, care for each other and have fun together – even though we might see the world from very different places.
Today is the day to tell our family how much they mean to us. (Although we should not reserve this for one day out of the year!)
In life we have a public and a private self. This dynamic proves to be particularly complex when we consider the family business landscape. Our family is our private world – the business is our public world and yet in a family business they are intricately intertwined.
When we are in our family system, we operate with our private self. We not only let our hair down but we also let our guard down. Often we are willing to speak to and behave towards our family members in a way that we would never do to a stranger or a colleague. We are our best selves in our family but we most assuredly are also our worst selves in this realm.
When we start work each day, we have our “social controls” on. We are conditioned to behave and act a certain way when we are in public. It is like wearing our Sunday best dress. We put a smile on our face for our customers and for our employees.
For families in business together this dynamic can be particularly complicated. It can be difficult to have a fight at dinner one night and expect to be friendly and at ease in the office the next day. A father and son may have a particular challenge in their relationship where there is a great deal of anger and frustration on important matters but they must “turn off” the emotions associated with this challenge in order to function effectively in the business as partners or boss and employee. Family members must learn to self-regulate so that employees do not walk around the office on egg shells because they are dealing with “father and son” rather than “the boss and an employee”.
Self regulation is much easier said than done. The first part of self-regulation is self-awareness. Frankly, self-awareness is the easier of the two. Self-regulation takes intention and enormous discipline and practice. It is like learning anything new, it takes a great deal of time and patience because we fail and fail again before we develop competence in what we are trying to learn.
Self-regulation starts with regularly facing the truth about the gap between our intention and our actual behavior We have an infinite capacity for self-deception! Too often we point the finger at others and live in denial about our responsibility in the matter. Self-regulation is facilitated by accountability. Accountability is both a defense against our capacity for self-deception and a source of information about what is getting in our way which is often ourselves.
Ultimately, we need to pretend that a stranger is in the room every time we talk to our family so that we eventually treat them with a great deal more respect. In this case our private and public self would become more aligned and be more consistent with our value system.