Make Your Employees Brighter

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As leaders, we all understand the importance of supporting our people. Traditionally, this includes giving them the resources they need, defending them from criticism, and showing them they’re appreciated. These are all important, but now science shows there’s something even more profound that we can do for them. We can intentionally help them improve their ability to think.

When I first became the CIO of a large transportation company, it was imperative that we replace a 30-year technology that ran our entire company’s operation. It had become embedded in almost every company process over the years and was severely impeding our ability to move forward. We had a brilliant architect, Sean, and he was assigned to lead the effort. He was super-smart, but this monumental undertaking had been tried by many other super-smart people, and they had all failed. In fact, there had been no less than four projects that attempted to replace this old technology, and they had all ended in defeat.

Sean had to be at the top of his game to figure this out. It required that he analyze lots of complex details, understand how they all fit into the system’s big picture, and envision creative solutions for plugging in the new technology while cautiously unplugging the old. This mission demanded that Sean have the highest level of coherence. Coherence is a psychological and physiological state in which a person’s ability to analyze information, think of creative solutions, and solve problems is the highest. Fortunately, I was able to help foster this state in Sean.

Science has proven that one person, the sender, can intentionally facilitate coherence in another person, the recipient. The sender does this by first getting into a state of coherence and then directing compassion-infused attention towards the recipient. Through experimentation, a significant positive difference has been found in a person’s level of coherence when they are the recipient of this process and the sender is proficient in achieving their own high level of coherence. I used this process periodically throughout each day for Sean, for the duration of the project.

It’s important to note that the influence on the recipient is higher when there is an interpersonal bond between the sender and the recipient. This is yet another good reason to generate positive inter-personal relationships with your employees. Plus, the process is most effective when the sender focuses foremost on achieving a high coherence level themselves rather than focusing too much on changing the coherence level of the recipient. It seems that if the sender focuses too much on imposing their mental state on the recipient, this over-engages the mind and takes them out of coherence. I find that the best results are achieved when I focus on building my own high coherence while breathing in, and then direct it to the recipient while breathing out.

I’m happy to say that Sean and his team were successful. Sure I supported him in all the traditional ways, such as making sure he had proper funding and capable team members, but I also helped him become his brightest.

As we learn more from neuroscience about the incredible power of group emotions, we see reasons to adopt techniques beyond the ordinary. For more on shaping team emotions to increase creativity and performance, including research references, get notified of the upcoming book Primal Teams: Harnessing the Incredible Power of Group Energy or sign up for a monthly summary of articles.


About the Author:

Jackie Barretta is a writer, speaker and consultant helping organizations strengthen agility and performance by shaping emotional energy. She is a thought leader bringing to light the new science of group emotional energy and connecting it to business performance. She has had a 28-year award winning career as a C-level Fortune 500 executive and Big Four consulting firm professional.
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  1. Stephanie  June 4, 2012

    Sounds interesting. I’m interested in understanding some practical actions you took to achieve this in yourself and Sean.

  2. Jackie Barretta  June 4, 2012

    Stephanie, I’ve used a form of meditation to help me reach higher levels of coherence. I’ve practiced it enough that I know what it feels like in my body and can now generate that feeling at any time. There are lots of meditation methods, but I once learned one thru The Art of Living that is the foundation of my technique. It’s important that the meditation technique include a focus of attention on the heart, and it must include the generation of positive emotion. Meditation practices that focus attention in the mind generally do not induce coherence.

    It’s extremely useful to use a feedback monitor while learning to get into a state of coherence. I can personally vouch for the HeartMath emWave, and you can purchase it on-line by googling it. I just attach it to my earlobe or put my thumb on its sensor, and it gives me instant feedback on my level of coherence by displaying an indicator light of green (coherent), blue, or red (incoherent). Optionally, it will also sound a periodic tone corresponding to the light color. I can even hook it to my laptop to record my performance during a session. I know from experience that all it takes is a fleeting moment of taking my awareness off of my heart or feeling a negative emotion to quickly turn the light from green to red, so I have confidence in it. You can use it to identify that feeling in your body that corresponds to high coherence, and then return to that anytime.

    I hope this helps, and I do offer over-the-phone coaching that is based on HeartMath techniques. Actually, HeartMath sponsors a lot of the research that I reference. They have some good techniques for reaching coherence, and a good book of theirs is From Chaos to Coherence. I don’t know of any resources (other than me) that teach how to “send” coherence to a recipient. I’m a licensed HeartMath coach but also add in other techniques.


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