Dr. Alan Watkins writes on the science of coherent leadership which encompasses a wide range of areas brought together to help individuals in business increase their developmental levels and be more personally effective. Alan is an honorary senior lecturer in neuroscience and psychological medicine at Imperial College, London and originally qualified as a physician. Alan worked with the Great Britain rowing squad prior to the London Olympics and provides continued guidance to the coaches in advance of Rio 2016. He is the founder and CEO of Complete Coherence.

We live in a rapidly changing, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. The amount of information available to us is increasing at a staggering rate. In fact knowledge is now doubling every 13 months and it is calculated that knowledge will soon be doubling every 12 hours. Many find this pace of this change completely overwhelming.

Many leaders are already recognising they are in over their heads, but the good news is that we are currently only operating at about 9% of our true potential. So if we can unlock more of our potential we could cope, or even flourish, in the face of this change.

Many leaders are already recognising they are in over their heads.

The key to discovering our full potential is vertical development (as opposed to horizontal learning). Horizontal learning is about what you know, whereas vertical development is about how you know. In a world where technology will far surpass – if it hasn’t already – our knowledge and the amount we can learn, to truly succeed we need to develop who we are and how we know.

Vertical development is objectively quantifiable through assessments that measure the eight key different lines of development that make the biggest difference in organisations – physical, emotional, values, cognitive, ego, behaviour, connection and impact

Vertical development is objectively quantifiable through assessments.

The physical line of development is normally a good start point, as it determines how much energy you have. Next in need of attention is usually the emotional line because a lack of emotional and social intelligence will often derail development in other lines.

Step changing capability in the emotional line is not simply about increased awareness, it is also about cultivating increased emotional literacy, emotional self-regulation, emotional resilience, self-motivation, optimism, empathy, and the ability to sustain positive relationships with people you don’t necessarily like – a skill which reveals you are truly socially intelligent.  

The development with the most dramatic effect is the upward transition in social intelligence, associated with the ability to master your own emotional state. Most people believe that their emotional state is the result of other people’s actions – the ‘you made me feel bad’, ‘you did it to me’ attitude. With emotional development, you realise that no one is doing it to you, you do it to yourself. Your emotional state is down to you and you alone.

This shift is truly game-changing – you move from a position of victimhood to a position of response-ability – so called because in this state of being you find yourself able to control your own response.

The ability to change how you feel on demand, under any circumstance, is genuinely life-changing; you never have to feel anything you don’t want to feel ever again.

It takes time and practice – and high quality guidance from a brilliant coach – to reach this level in the emotional line of development, but it will probably make more difference to your career, and your life, than almost anything else you ever do.

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