Ogilvy's Feature on WYLD
If you had to identify yourself as a predominantly left- or right-brained thinker, which side would you lean most toward? Are you an analytical and task-oriented individual? Or do you have an affinity for creativity and tend to focus more on the bigger picture? People often segment themselves as strictly either left- or right-brained. But is it really that black and white, or is there more to our brains than dividing them into the left and right hemispheres?
Recently a group of 30 Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide (OCHWW) employees attended the “Use Your Mind to Change Your Brain” workshop, where they were challenged to rethink how the brain works and explore the idea of an integrated brain. Presented by OCHWW’s Women’s Leadership Professional Network (WLPN), this workshop was the first of four in a speaker series that will be offered to WLPN members throughout 2018.
Through the speaker series, the WLPN strives to achieve their goal of helping OCHWW employees step up and step forward, by providing access to inspiring leaders and helping to facilitate their professional success. In order to do so, the team wanted to kick off the series with more than just a lecture, and offer attendees the opportunity to participate in an interactive workshop that would leave WLPN members with a valuable new skill set and the motivation to put their learnings to use.
As a leader, it’s important to be mindful of the energy you give off and the environment you are creating for others.
Enter Kristin Meek and Kelly Lynch, leadership consultants from WYLD. Kristin and Kelly introduced the participants to the concept of the integrated brain, which links aspects from both the right and the left hemispheres. When done effectively and consistently, one can use the integrated brain to create mindful awareness, quickly recover from strong or negative emotions, and ultimately use the brain as a tool to become more successful as a leader in the workplace, and in one’s everyday life.
According to Kristin and Kelly, the evolutionary purpose of emotions directly links to our survival instincts, as emotions were a gauge in prehistoric times to measure levels of danger or safety within the environment. Emotions heavily influenced decision making in this time period. Even today, strong negative emotions will evoke a “fight or flight” impulse in the brain, and can negatively affect productivity and effectiveness.
According to Kristin and Kelly, you can either find yourself “above or below the line,” which refers to the distinction between positive (above) and negative (below) emotions. Instead of looking at the brain in halves, this thinking breaks the brain up into quadrants.
Kristin and Kelly explained to the group that living “above the line” allows you to broaden and build: you’ll feel energized and will likely have increased productivity due to increased levels of oxytocin and serotonin hormones. On the contrary, living “below the line” causes you to constrict and shrink. In this state, your body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. You’ll react more intensely to negative stimuli, and feelings like anger and sadness will continue to build upon themselves.
During the workshop, Kristin and Kelly facilitated a musical tour of the brain, having everyone close their eyes while music was played to evoke feelings that mimic what it might feel like to be in each of the brain’s four quadrants.
WLPN member Brenda Molloy found the exercise “extremely rewarding and experiential, in particular how Kristin and Kelly used sound (music) to evoke certain emotions from us.”
The workshop received overwhelmingly positive feedback: 90% of attendees agreed that the workshop was extremely useful, and 95% felt the workshop was inspiring in relation to improving performance. Kristin and Kelly also provided helpful tips for bouncing “above the line,” which can be summed up perfectly by WLPN member Nina Giacchi:
“The fabulous duo helped me to realize what section of the brain I was in depending on my emotions and feelings, and how to move from ‘below the line’ to ‘above the line,’ or from a negative state to a more positive viewpoint. After this experience, I have noticed myself falling ‘below the line,’ feeling upset, angry, or overwhelmed, but instead of letting my emotions affect me for long periods, I have utilized the tactics that help bring me back ‘above the line’ to feel calm, happy, and optimistic.”
Brenda Molloy also noted, “We all have habits that have been formed from our past experiences, especially in our approach to our careers. This workshop dove into that insight and forced us, in the gentlest way, to understand more about the why and to understand that our brain can and does change through different experiences. And most importantly—we actually have the power to change it.”
How can one use this information to become more effective in the workplace or in a leadership position? Here are some key takeaways from the workshop that can help you become a better leader and make a positive impact on those around you:
“Name it to tame it”
Good leaders are not in their integrated brain, or even “above the line,” all the time. In fact, we should be constantly fluctuating “above and below the line,” like an EKG. If you’re able to identify what you’re feeling and why, you can work to quickly bounce back “above the line.”
“As within, so without”
How you’re feeling within is usually visible to those around you. As a leader, it’s important to be mindful of the energy you give off and the environment you are creating for others.
Effective leaders are able to create mindful awareness every day, and have an ability to recover from being “below the line” faster. This ultimately creates an environment of faith, hope, stability, and trust—the top qualities many look for in a leader.
By remembering these takeaways, and by practicing to use your integrated brain, you’ll soon notice the impact you have on those around you and how they respond to you.