Have you ever had a sudden solution to a complicated situation or a light-bulb moment? Do you know how this comes about? These are insight and they are important to creativity, problem solving, empowerment, and motivation and are valuable skills in leadership.
In order to have more insight around your business decisions, it is more effective to have a quiet brain, not focusing on the problem, looking inward and being in a reward state. These are generally the four states where insight can occur. A tool called the 5 R’s of Insight can help you to get into these states.
The 5 R's of Insight
You need to be able to recognise when a problem should be solved by your prefrontal cortex (PFC) or whether it is more complex, needs more time and needs our subconscious to work it out.
Recognise the problem you are solving by asking yourself, 'Do I need to solve this now or can it wait until tomorrow or next week?' Since not all problems are equal, and as a leader you will have many to deal with daily, you need to be able to recognise how much brain power is needed to solve it or if your brain is much too crowded to make any sense of it. In this way, if something needs more critical thinking and it can wait until next week, you can put it aside until you have the time to deal with it.
Having a crowded brain makes it hard to find insight. This means that when your brain is relaxed, you will have more insight. Take the time to sit in reflection and shift your brain-state.
By taking time out to 'smell the roses', close your eyes and breathe deeply, you are increasing the amount of alpha brain waves and allowing for more focus. This will create many more insight.
What makes you relaxed? Typical triggers that make us feel relaxed are taking a warm shower or bath, exercising, meditation, and driving home.
The non-conscious mind has been working extremely hard to solve the problems you face and now that you let your mind wander, it can surface and plant those ideas into your conscious mind.
By asking yourself or your team member, 'How do I solve this problem?', you are moving into a reflection state and increasing your alpha brain waves, as well as theirs. It's good practice to ask questions about the problem and look at it from different angles. If you already know the answer, allow the other person to reflect and come up with a solution on their own. You can ask them questions to prompt reflection, such as, ‘When you think about this situation, what comes to your mind?’
If one of your managers is having a problem with a colleague not performing tasks on time, it's obvious what the problem is but focusing solely on that is not going to create a solution. The manager needs help to look for solutions to the problem and as a leader you can provide valuable tools for problem solving by getting the manager to think. This is where some brainstorming can occur, asking questions like, 'What outcome are you after?' or 'What thinking have you done around how to improve this situation?'
By allowing your manager to focus on the solution and removing the problem, there is an opportunity for him / her to take ownership of the situation and find a solution in an efficient way.
When we are faced with a dilemma, we are often in a threatened state: anxious, stressed or angry. Knowing that this is unlikely to produce an insight can motivate us to shift this state quickly, at least to neutral, if not to a reward state. Positive emotions create a reward state: clearer thinking and more effective production.
You can help a person get to a reward state just by the tone of your questions. If you think about the situation with your manager and the issue with the colleague, you might say, 'You are really good with people, let's talk about some solutions.' Or, 'You are really good with time management, I think you can help [the employee] finish his / her tasks on time.’ Making statements like these will help your manager move from being frustrated to a reward state, allowing him / her to think more clearly about a solution.
The 5 R's of Insight are easy strategies to use for yourself or your team and shape a much more creative and productive workplace.
Kristen Hansen is the founder of EnHansen Performance, building leadership, resilience, adaptability, creativity, coaching, self-management and engagement skills in organisations throughout Asia Pacific. She has completed studies in the Neuroscience of Leadership and is an accomplished facilitator and professional speaker, nominated for the 2017 National Speakers Award and is a sought-after media commentator. Kristen is the author of TRACTION: The Neuroscience of Leadership and Performance. To find out more, visit her website: www.enhansenperformance.com.au