Boundaries for Leaders by Henry Cloud

Boundaries for Leaders by Henry Cloud

Author:Henry Cloud
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins


Earlier we said that for the brain to be at its best, the executive functions of attention, inhibition, and working memory must be present. Then we said that a positive emotional climate, connectedness, and positive thinking add to the brain’s ability to perform as well. Now we are adding another extremely important element to the recipe: control. A sense of being in control changes people’s brains and affects their performance big time. Help them get a sense of what they can control that affects results and empower them to exercise that control, and you have brains firing with a lot of horsepower.

Here’s what happens. When people’s brains are working at their best, they are more creative, better problem solvers, less reactive, more proactive and goal oriented. They have more energy, and they have a better sense of well-being. The lesson for leaders is this: give people more control and they will thrive. And then, help them focus that control on the things that drive results, and they win, and you will, too.

It turns out that our brains just love control. When we perceive that we have the ability to be in control of things that affect some result, we get amped. It is the exact opposite of what happens in learned helplessness. Instead of powerlessness creeping in, it is intoxicatingly empowering, in a good way.

Neuroscience has shown that the more experiences we have of being in control, the better our higher brains function. It is when we are affected by things outside of our control—and cannot regain a sense of being in control of anything that will make a difference—that we hit a real brain slowdown. You can see why people who feel like they have little choice in life are more apt to give up, and go into negative spirals. But if they can regain a sense of control, great things happen. This is why leaders must turn into “control freaks”—just not in the way we usually think of. Instead of being a control freak by controlling other people, leaders must turn into control freaks about letting others be in control of what they should be in control of that drives results.

So great leaders do the opposite of exercising control over others. Instead of taking all the control, they give it away. They help people take control of themselves and their performance. The popular meaning of control freak is someone who tries to control everything, and drives everyone around him crazy. What I mean here is a leader who obsessively focuses on helping his or her people get back in control of themselves, to drive their own activities that directly affect outcomes.


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