Helping Leaders Achieve Greater Influence, Higher Engagement & Increased Results

Could You Be a Flow Suppressor

ChallengeThis what happens when you get the balance between challenge and support wrong!

I’m sure you recognise that unless relaxing on a beach on holiday, having no pressure or challenge soon leads to a feeling of boredom. If this happens at work we become ineffective, The converse to this, too much pressure or challenge and we start to shut down and also become ineffective.

Somewhere in the middle there is a ‘sweet spot’, the point at which we reach peak performance. That sweet spot is  different for each of us.

Hungarian Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the phrase ‘Flow’, being in a ‘Flow State’ or sometimes referred to as ‘in the Zone’. When we are at peak performance or flow, time seems to fly by unnoticed.

This state is most likely to occur when we experience the right balance of challenge and support for us personally and it’s all down to a couple of key brain chemicals, dopamine and norepinephrine, (also known as noradrenaline).Support

Many leaders may be unwittingly getting the balance wrong because they don’t know their people well enough, either burning them out or under challenging them. Everybody is different, many people will not say if the balance is wrong unless you ask them. Just look at the statistics about workplace stress, much of this is caused by providing too much challenge and not enough support. This means their levels of another brain chemical, Cortisol is too high creating stress. Or  have you ever had a good performer who’s performance starts to tail off, this could be because they are not challenged enough.

Neuroscientists have discovered that we all have a part of our brain that lights up or is activated, (viewed live via brain scanner,fMRI), when we feel ‘threatened”  by a situation, I am not referring to physical threat where the stronger fight/flight mechanism kicks in, this ‘threat’ is very subtle and is mostly at an unconscious level. For example when we are being over challenged. The result is we are likely to feel less positive towards this person and less likely to work hard or put in extra effort for them.
Conversely, there is also a part of our brain that lights up or is activated, when we feel ‘rewarded’ by a situation or person, for example when the balance of challenge ans support is just right for us. This again is very subtle and is mostly at an unconscious level. The result is we are likely to feel more positive towards this person and more likely to be proactive or put in extra effort.

Regularly triggering the ‘threat’ circuits or your people will make them less likely to do more than required, ie compliance. They will move away from you on the Human Connection Scale™.

By Peter Green

Peter is a speaker, workshop facilitator and author. Founder of Limbic Leadership, helping front line leaders harness the brain for massive influence, higher engagement and exceptional results from their teams. Leadership Development Grounded in Neuroscience!

Leave a Reply