This article was produced for techSPARK’s Leadership Month, sponsored by The Conscious Leadership Co (TCLC). ‘Awake’ is the first blog in the Five Pillars of Conscious Leadership series. Read on to learn how we can begin to rewire unhealthy habits. Stay tuned for the next four pieces to come this month. 

By Rosie Wintour, Head of Content at TCLC.

As humans, we are hard-wired to repeat patterns of behaviour, even when we know they don’t serve us. The familiar is safer than the unknown – and changing is quite frankly often hard work. 

Beliefs, coping mechanisms, and values are all embedded in our brains from an early age when neuroplasticity is at its most malleable. As we grow up and evolve, these neural pathways become hard-wired and play out in our day-to-day lives without us even realising it. 

Take the example of the child whose parents instilled in her a punishing work ethic. She grew up believing that her worthiness would come from working harder and longer hours than anyone else. 

Fast-forward to the management consultant 40 years’ later who works round the clock and holds her team to the same standards. She doesn’t recognise that she holds this belief, where it might come from, whether it has negative impacts, how it has shaped her life, her relationships, and how it is affecting the people she is now a role model to.

Waking our subconscious

Although complex, rewiring neural pathways is possible and we’re learning more all of the time about how to do this.

Psychologists have studied it for years. Changing these pathways, beliefs, values and behaviours starts with having an awareness and curiosity about ourselves. Most essentially, we need to come to this with the willingness to do things differently.

One has to be open to a little introspection and reflection to be able to look at ourselves and our behaviours objectively – and the confidence to recognise that we’re not perfect helps too. 

As leaders especially, our subconscious thoughts and beliefs can limit us greatly. It leads to us making mistakes and poor judgements about how we treat and lead others. Unless we become conscious of them. 

Managing emotion in leadership

Emotions play a significant part in our lives as humans too. The very passion and exuberance that lead us to our positions as founders and leaders, can also be the greatest inhibitor to our effectiveness. Albeit, only if we haven’t learned the art of regulating our emotions. 

To be able to make rational and reasonable decisions computing the information we assimilate around us, we need to be able to remove our egos and emotional attachments from the equation. 

That means being able to let go of the need to “be right” – to acknowledge and own our failures and biases. We need to recognise where things like our inner critic, our limiting beliefs, or imposter syndrome might be guiding our behaviours or actions.

Unless we understand what triggers our emotions and unless we assess our own emotional patterns, we can let our emotions negatively impact the way we think and behave. That gets in the way of us being effective leaders.

A new approach

We have a responsibility to ourselves, to those we work with, and to those we live with, to take the time to understand ourselves. Following this, we should also take the time to adapt the way we are, to achieve better results. 

It leads to richer relationships, the ability to be more authentic and it actually helps us to live more fruitful lives. By understanding ourselves better, we can get closer to who we really want to be and how we want to be known by others. 

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.