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How to keep your brain fit for agile leadership?

If you have to lead agile teams, you need agile leaders that possess important qualities, such as the ability to innovate and view issues from multiple angles, be able to take good risks, outperform through challenges and reflect and learn from experiences.

What does neuroscience learn us, especially when it comes to training our “agile leadership brain”?

The following seven neuro-cognitive activities are taken from The Healthy Mind Platter, published by David Rock in the Neuroleadership Journal, in 2012. Seven activities that will help you to keep your brain fit for the challenges of agile leadership.

1. Take enough time to sleep.

As important as sleep is for the body, evidence suggests that it may be even more critical for the brain. Sleep stimulates critical brain functions, such as memory, creative processing, and emotion regulation. How much sleep should you get? Although there is room for individual variation, on average we need 8 hours sleep per day.

2. Time to play

Playfulness enhances the capacity to innovate, adapt, and master changing circumstances. It is not just an escape. Often, it can show us a way out of our problems. Playing helps us to train our brain for the unexpected.

‍Time to play

3. Downtime

With downtime the investigators refer to a very specific type of “activity”: inactivity, or doing absolutely nothing that has a predefined goal. Hanging out, being spontaneous, as you might do on a lazy Sunday morning with no plans stimulates unconscious thought and produces better decisions.

‍Did you know that smart time management is mainly about a fit brain?

4. Time-in

This is about reflection, attunement, meditation. It is about training the brain towards an intentional self-regulation of attention. Mindfulness is one of the ways to achieve stronger attention and emotion regulation.

5. Connecting time

Social connection is a basic human need, very much like water, food and shelter. Our connections to others provide a source of feeling seen, safe, and secure. The perception that others provide assistance and emotional support, buffers the negative effects of stress on your health.

6. Physical time

Physical activity has a significant positive and global impact on mental functioning. Exercise has the capacity to enhance learning and memory capacity under a variety of conditions. It can help to increase your brain’s health and plasticity throughout life.

7. Focus time

Focus time enables you to avoid the sense of being overwhelmed that so often is the result of trying to multitask. Isolate yourself now and than from the rest of the people and make sure you can concentrate and finish your task. There is a direct relationship between stress, focus and the health of your brain.

If you care for a fit brain, a healthy mind diet is necessary. It will enable you to keep focus and overview, do the right things and enhance engagement of your team members. This will give you great results.

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Koos Vos

Koos is a strategic consultant focused on experiential learning at the individual, team and organizational levels. Drawing from his career as an actor and acting coach, Koos takes an unconventional approach to his training to develop the TRIP physical coaching model. Outside of Yellow, Koos is an associate professor at both EADA and IESE Business Schools in Barcelona.

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