Delegates at the World Credit Union Conference in Belfast were told to lead with the brain in mind.
A credit union practitioner with a passion for leadership Sandra McDowell led a special breakout session looking at the key challenges in terms of leadership. Neuroleadership is a new discipline that aims to explain why many leadership efforts and organisational change initiatives are unsuccessful, and why employee disengagement is so prevalent.
Ms McDowell founded the eLeadership Academy to support the leadership development of others online. She is also a former World Council Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) scholarship winner and vice president for communication and culture at First Credit Union in Powell River, British Columbia.
She pointed out how according to a Gallup survey from 2015, around 65% of employees worldwide are disengaged and 24% of those actively engaged in sabotaging the efforts of managers. Moreover, another study shows that 63% of employees worldwide experience stress.
To address this, she proposed four ways to lead with the brain in mind:
Ms McDowell highlighted that 50% more mistakes are made when multitasking and it takes 50% more time to multitask. She told delegates: “If we are expecting front line employees to multitask that impacts our brand and credibility, we need to set conditions for employees to be able to focus.” Meditation exercises can also help staff focus more and avoid mind wandering, she added.
Leaders should also make sure they are not leaving out staff members and make sure all employees feel accepted. Ms McDowell highlighted that inclusion mattered and advised credit union leaders not to use a “we and they” language.
- Brain health
Another important aspect that leaders should take into account is, according to Ms McDowell, incentivising staff to have healthier lifestyles. She explained how the lack of activity was “the new smoking”. Poor nutrition, the lack of sleep and the lack of exercise, all impact on employees’ performance, she added.
“Foster brain care, your business depends on your people,” she said.
While organisations and people resist change, credit unions should aim to change certain habits, argued Ms McDowell. This involves noticing when things go wrong, having an expectation mind-set and believing change is possible.