Head, Heart & Guts of Organisational Change

Why is it so difficult to make positive, lasting changes in our personal lives, and in organisations?

We all think of ourselves as rational and intelligent human beings, but in reality, we are driven by much older, automatic and subconscious processes of our limbic part of our brain, as well as cardiac and enteric nervous systems (our heart and gut ‘brains’).

When this is placed in the organisational context, our ways of working often institutionalise those individual habits, routines, and attitudes into familiar ways of being and doing, creating safety and familiarity – the culture of the organisation.

If you have ever set up goals or New Year’s resolutions, just to find yourself back to the old unhealthy habits and routines few months or even weeks later, you will know that having the right information and willingness to change does not necessarily translate into the right action.

If we do not understand inherited, subconscious processes of our own minds, we are not able to control it. Likewise, we cannot implement efficient organisational change if we do not understand what drives social dynamics from inside out.

The latest research of neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology offers a unique explanation of our neuro-physiological levels and how we operate as human beings in complex modern environments. This goes beyond our rational, cognitive understanding, and offers insights into intuitive, somatic intelligence that is processed subconsciously and manifests in automatic behaviours and habits.

Based on this research, we can construct a new approach to Organisational Development and effective Leadership Influence:

3 I’s model: Insight, Inspiration, Impact.

Each element represents a different level of intelligence and corresponds to a different system of neurological structures within our bodies (head, heart, and gut) and can be used for efficient implementation of the personal and organisational development process.

1. Insight (HEAD: Cognitive Intelligence) – logic, knowledge, awareness.

2. Inspiration (HEART: Emotional Intelligence) – energy, emotions, connections

3. Impact (GUT: Somatic, physical expression) – action, strategy, behaviours

Insight represents cognitive intelligence, with our head as a seat of rational thinking and decision-making process. Any change must first start with awareness, as we cannot influence what we do not know. Therefore, all our work must first start with relevant research, data and information to equip you with the right insights to make the right decision. The prefrontal cortex, the newest part of our brain in evolutionary terms, provides us with cognitive abilities differentiating us from other species and allowing us to communicate, drive innovation, create new tools and resources, and therefore develop our adaptability as well as shaping our environment according to our needs and desires. Charle’s Darwin’s statement that it is not the strongest, nor the most intelligent that survive, but the one most adaptive to change, is as true to the evolution of the species, as it is to the modern business environment, – today we have to adapt to the change faster than ever in order to remain competitive and profitable. When choosing the right OD consultant to work with, it is imperative that they provide you with all the right knowledge and insights to shape the direction for personal and organisational development. Understanding processes of our brains can enable us to better deal with information overload, to take better lessons out of our past failures, and to sharpen memory, decision making, problem solving and executive abilities – tools that can be developed via effective leadership development programmes and coaching.

Inspiration represents emotional intelligence, with our heart being neurological centre processing our emotions and social interactions, underpinned by the research of neurocardiology. Having the right energy and motivation is crucial for creating the desired influence. This is often reinforced by the strength of our mindset, beliefs, and other subconscious filters that can be limiting, or empowering. Neurocardiology explains many aspects of our behaviour that cannot be attributed to the intelligence alone, such as executive functioning, egocentric impulses, judgemental biases, moral perspectives, as well as relational and situational communication. The lessons we take from our experiences and interactions with others can shape our future responses and interactions. Interpersonal Neurobiology explains how our neural circuits are shaped by social dynamics, relationships, and experiences, therefore by utilising this research we can create appropriate experiential learning to develop emotionally-intelligent leadership.

The third element, Impact, is all about being able to implement all the above in practice, and it often takes guts to do it, representing somatic intelligence, which helps us to understand how our body responds to adversity and copes with daily challenges in our environment by creating right action, strategy, right habits and measurable results. This, in turn, can produce systemised data that can be fed back to our first step of the cycle to generate new insights. The gut contains its own intrinsic enteric nervous system, hence it is often labelled as our second brain. Many brain functions of the central nervous system are being regulated by gut-brain axis, including our control of emotional impulses and drives, mental health and regulation of stress response, levels of risk exposure, and our ability to translate our vision into strategy. To ensure lasting change, create leadership development programmes that can equip you with the right tools to fully utilise the potential of your gut-brain to create desired results and lasting impact.

How do we put that into practice?

Knowledge + Energy = Vision

Any change, personal or organisational, must start with the vision – when the purpose of the organisation is clearly defined at the start, it is easier to streamline the development processes required to achieve it. To create the right vision, it requires information and awareness about the situation, issues to solve and solutions to offer, charged with the right emotional energy – your WHY. What difference will it make? Why do we need to act? What role do we play in the process? How will we feel when we get there? What values and believes we need to drive us forward?

Neuroscience offers unique ways to process the information around us in order to make the right decisions, as well as ways to access our own inner wisdom. Having an understanding of subconscious human drives, can help us to infuse our message with inspiring, motivation message to gather support for our vision.

Knowledge + Action = Strategy

It is important to combine the insights of the current situation (where are we right now) with the desired destination (where are we going) to define strategic action steps to bridge the gap between the two. Of course, that’s obvious and not new to you. However, what we often take for granted is that most organisations build their strategy only from a rational, reasonable point of view, yet to ensure that the actions are aligned with strategic objectives of future vision, it requires an additional level of intelligence. In order to create a real difference, it’s not enough to just serve the needs of the organisation itself and operate from established truths – we need to question how we know what we know, and find better alternatives that are unique to the needs of the consumer markets you serve, and individuals who make it happen.

In addition to behavioural insights that can help to understand intentions and changing habits of your consumer, neuroscience also offers many ways to ‘hack’ our brains and bodies for better performance, efficiency, productivity, and alternative ways of building an effective organisational structure to support the best behaviours and deliver desired outcomes.

Energy + Action = Culture

Culture is a fertile ground for planting the seeds of change. But it is not enough to have the right processes, standards and procedures. Behaviours must be maintained by the right values and beliefs, motivation and engagement, and overall physical and mental wellbeing of each individual within the system. Many organisations try to model existing successful ways of working and implement expensive staff reward and recognition schemes – but that is like painting over the watermarks on the ceiling, instead of trying to fix the leak.

In order to create a unique system that will sustain organisational behaviours for the long term, the culture needs to evolve from the inside out, with each individual having a say in shaping the system, freedom to learn from mistakes, and resilience to grow with challenges.

Neuroscience-base personal and organisational development offers unique ways to integrate different levels of intelligence systems to provide leaders with the right knowledge, right energy, and effortless strategic action to ensure lasting results.  

The role of Leadership

The change in behaviours should be implemented from the bottom up, but inspired by the vision and strategic direction from the top down. In order to create resilient, sustainable organisations, our leaders must be able to transform today’s challenges into future opportunities. This requires:

  1. Self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses (individuals and organisational level) to identify areas of opportunities and development.
  2. Personal and professional development: taking action to improve and address the blind spots, seeking mentorship and coaching, learning new skills and abilities, building capacity to deal with future challenges and demands.
  3. Growth Mindset: the ability to learn positive lessons from mistakes and failures, positive attitude to external challenges, intrinsic motivation and strive for better ways of doing and being.
  4. Interpersonal Skills: great leaders achieve results through others, by inspiring positive change, creating development opportunities, building communities of support, and enabling others to be their best versions of themselves.

The role of leadership is to inspire others to believe in something that doesn’t exist yet, and to gather required support and reources to make it happen.


What’s Next?

In summary, efficient organisational change requires the integration of different levels of capacity building: cognitive, emotional, and strategic:

Insight – diagnostic analysis to equip you with information about underlying issues, research data, market awareness and knowledge to make the right decisions. 

Inspiration – motivating mastery of emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills and a positive mindset to create empowering vision and leadership influence. 

Impact – practical toolkit for measurable improvement, effective performance, aligned behaviours, and impeccable execution of sustainable strategy. 

If you require support in building the capacity of your organisation, you are welcome to book a complimentary consultation with me to answer your questions and assess future leadership development needs.

I specialise in providing support for organisations that go through rapid growth or are facing unavoidable structural changes.

As a founder of Elite Mind, I am proud to be able to translate the neuroscience research from academic fields into unique, practical applications. My brain-based training, coaching and leadership development can provide your talent with a competitive edge to be able to fully utilise the full potential of their own brain, to create efficiency, productivity, wellbeing, and sustainable strategic execution. 


Wishing you best of success,

Evelina Dzimanavičiūtė, Director, Elite Mind Ltd

+44 7825163763, evelina@elitemind.co.uk

Book your appointment with me HERE.

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