Women are typically under-represented in positions of power. This year women only make up 5% of Fortune 500 CEOS1 and according to the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency nearly three quarters of organisations have a male only management team.2 The number of women in senior roles is actually declining globally3.
There is an unconscious bias towards women in leadership, which intimidates women and leaves them in an environment that doesn’t nurture their strengths and cuts them down. When a person feels intimidated, their brain’s threat response activates and consequently they are less likely to be able to express their true potential.
Social scientist, leadership expert and award-winning filmmaker, Silvia Damiano, believes that society has specific expectations of female leaders. Men and women think differently, which means they also lead differently. Understanding how the brain works will strengthen and shape the leaders of the future. Embracing the differences between male and female leaders will positively impact organisations and the future landscape of business and leadership.
Over the past 20 years, Silvia has developed a career, revolutionising the way organisations and individuals think about leadership. She developed the About My Brain Institute in 2009, an organisation using neuroscience to develop leaders, teams and cultures. Over the two decades of working in this space Silvia has noticed a number of patterns.
“Women tend to apologise quite a lot, but it isn’t necessarily due to a lack of confidence. It's because women are generally trying to harmonise the environment and that's a biological thing women have in comparison to men. Women’s brains are wired so they prioritise emotions, empathy and nurturing,” says Silvia. “Men, on the other hand, prioritise respect. Understanding these differences will create more diverse leadership. Women and men have something to contribute, and by breaking free of societal norms we can give everyone an equal say about the world around us,” says Silvia.
Silvia has included her tips on how to break the glass ceiling and get what you want:
Stop saying sorry
“In order to be an effective leader women need to be confident and stop apologising. Women tend to use the words ‘I’m sorry’ far too often and usually when it isn’t required. In a male dominated business landscape females need to stand up, get noticed, push their way forward and not apologise for their right to speak or their right to an opinion.”
Take care of yourself
“In order to be the most effective and productive you, it is important to prioritise health and wellbeing. Do something for yourself, get a massage, play your favourite sport, spend time with family, whatever it is that you want to do, do it! This is essential to manage your level of energy and stress and find that sense of balance in your life.”
Connect with others
“Connecting with people at work and getting to know colleagues on your team can lead to increased office communication. Knowing colleagues’ values, and their likes and dislikes is extremely valuable. Knowing what they are motivated towards can also help with distribution of work and who will excel at certain tasks.”
Develop a supportive network and sounding board
“It is very important to have a supportive network. This includes a sounding board - people you can bounce ideas off and who will be honest and supportive with you. Friends, mentors or coaches are great to gain a different perspective on problems at work.”
“Being able to articulate thoughts with confidence, understand your intuitive insights and influence others while remaining calm are essential to success. In order to become a female leader in today’s society, it is vital that you harness your communication skills and learn how to effectively regulate your emotions and utilise them in a work setting.”
Since founded the About my Brain Institute in 2009, an organisation using neuroscience to develop leaders, teams and cultures, Silvia has worked with companies such as Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange and VISA. She has authored a number of books including ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, and recently released her award-winning documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’. Released earlier this year, the documentary uses a scientific foundation to argue that modern leadership requires an integrative approach with both the body and mind and concludes that leaders can be made. Through interviews with experts and leaders around the world, the documentary explores how a democratic, collaborative view of leadership is the only way for individuals to reach their true potential in a world where creativity is king.
For more information visit www.aboutmybrain.com.
About My Brain – using neuroscience to create better leaders
Leadership is quickly becoming a more accessible dream in which business owners, managers and CEOs can create and develop more leaders within their business and therefore improve their working environment to foster success. This is one of the key aims of About My Brain Institute, an organisation using neuroscience to develop leaders, teams and cultures through transformational experiences, digital tools and practical leadership training. Founded by Silvia Damiano, award-winning brain-based leadership expert, social scientist and biologist and filmmaker, About My Brain is democratising leadership, that is, making self-leadership the focus no matter what your role is in the business. Her work aims to connect the dots between brain and body for business success.
About My Brain Institute and Silvia deconstructs what it takes to be a leader and the steps people need to take and implement within their day-to-day life in order to become a successful leader.
Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. This led her to create the About My Brain Institute to utilise her findings and apply them in a positive way.
“Since 2009, the research we have undertaken at the About my Brain Institute led us to believe that asking the leaders at the top of an organisation to transform, is no longer sufficient. Leaders do not have the bandwidth or the time. They want to use their thinking and ideas to drive business growth. Flexibility and brain-friendly environments are critical to support them in this new way of working. Most businesses haven’t adapted to this new reality yet, neither the mindsets or behaviours that can sustain it have been fostered or developed. There is still a clear mismatch between the way people now prefer to work and how businesses operate. Leadership has to be taught throughout the organisation so people can be in the best position to not only implement their ideas but also to collaborate with others to bring these ideas to fruition. That is why we believe that democratising leadership and making people aware of how to apply the latest findings on brain and body optimisation is so critical for business success in the 21st Century,” says Silvia.
Silvia is an international speaker, presenting at events such as TEDx and global conferences about leadership and has authored a ground-breaking book, ‘Leadership is Upside Down’. The book provides invaluable tools to enable anyone to unlock their potential and create their own personal leadership style by increasing self-awareness and understanding the relationship between a brain that functions at its best and leadership effectiveness.
In 2018 Silvia released her new documentary, ‘Make Me A Leader’, which delves into the mindset of successful leaders across the world. The feature-length documentary focuses on how leaders can optimise brain and body performance to thrive in the 21st Century. ‘Make Me A Leader’ has already won many awards including the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Award, Hollywood International Independent Documentary Award and Awareness Film Festival award.
“Leaders will have to become more knowledgeable and aware of their biology, which is the ‘human behind the leader’. A leader also needs to become an agile creator who can design the future as it emerges. New discoveries and technologies are shifting how we think, behave and interact with the world and with each other. Times have changed and a new type of leadership is emerging. This is a new leadership archetype which we like to refer to as the ‘Neuroleader’. This is what we hope to teach through About My Brain, self-awareness and the possibility to become the best leader we can possibly be,” says Silvia.
About My Brain Institute offers certifications, affiliate programs, mentoring and online courses. The organisation also run annual retreats, the 2018 retreat will be held in Byron Bay from 7th – 9th November. The i4 Live Retreat is a transformational program, designed for participants to acquire cutting-edge content from neuroscience, mind-brain development, neurogastronterology and much more which is packed with practical activities and experiences that will inspire participants to awaken their brain, gut and heart to new possibilities.
About My Brain Institute is cutting-edge revolutionary research applied in practical ways and is ideal for aspiring entrepreneurs, managers, business owners, or enterprise looking to build a productive and successful work environment.