Harvard Business Review contributors Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines of the Energy Project warn that at all times, we have two selves operating simultaneously. There’s the self governed by our pre-frontal cortex. It controls executive brain functions like planning and strategy. It’s calm, measured and rational. This is the self of which we are most aware.
Our other self is ruled by our amygdala, the small mid-brain section designed to perceive threats and danger. It’s reactive, impulsive and operates largely outside conscious awareness and control. When the amygdala fires up, the inner lawyer steps in to justify our behavior by rationalizing, avoiding, deflecting, disparaging, attacking and blaming.
If you want to be a good leader, it’s important to become more aware of this unconscious reactive self and its enabler, the inner lawyer. Once you better understand both, you can consciously choose ways to be more deliberate and thoughtful when you interact with your team.