The Left Brain Counts, But the Right Brain Matters

I am taking the title of this post from Joe Tye's Spark Plug Monday Spark, The Left Brain Counts, But the Right Brain Matters.

One of the best investments I have made in myself, aside from my spa days, has been a leadership coach. We meet regularly to talk about work related issues I am facing or leadership/professional goals I want to achieve. She knows me well and uses that insider knowledge, along with her experience and expertise, to coach me on my leadership.  Is it sometimes uncomfortable? Yes. I leave there at times saying, "Oh, I see now. I am the problem!" and at times really relieved that it wasn't me after all. Yes, I may leave with tools I can use but of the most value to me is the perspective I gain. With the proper perspective, tools are not necessary - my heart and gut guide me and they guide me well. Most of the time. When they don't it is because my emotions are in the way. 

Joe Tye's post below really says it all for me and, at the risk of breaking blogger's etiquette and because I am not sure how to link the contents of Joe's e-mail to my site, I 'd like to share it with you below:

The most important factor in your success will not be what you know, or even who you know; it will be your ability to effectively manage your own ego, emotions, and ambition. These three variables form the corners of what I call The Iron Triangle of False Personality. These are good things in the abstract: it takes a strong and healthy ego to presume to lead others; without emotions, we would be little more than robots; and without ambition, we would all still be hunting and gathering.


The problems arise when ego and “what’s in it for me?” thinking take precedence over doing the right thing overall (examples abound in the worlds of business, politics, and religion); when people impulsively react to emotions rather than managing them (emotional mismanagement underlies some of the most corrosive problems in organizations, such as passive-aggressive behavior and paralyzing risk aversion); and when people who pursue inauthentic ambitions (for example, by choosing their field of work because of money, status, and other superficial variables) not only place artificial ceilings on their potential, they often end up derailing their careers and suffering serious personal and family distress.


At a personal level, left brain skills will get you in the door and help you do the job you’ve been hired to do, but right brain skills are essential for effective team-building and leadership. At an organizational level, a company can be good, even very good, with excellent left brain skills (product development, market research, financial planning, etc.), but no company will ever be great without fostering such right brain skills as courage, passion, enthusiasm, and love (yes I did use that word deliberately).


One of the most important investment you can make in yourself is exercising your right brain. Learn how to recognize and manage anxiety, fear, and worry (three different but related emotions) so they don’t provoke panic, paralysis, or projection. Make a commitment to eradicate your own toxic emotional negativity, and to constructively confront it in others. Work on becoming a better listener (great idea: carry a pen and steno pad wherever you go, and remind yourself to “play reporter” in every meeting or conversation). Get into the habit of being more enthusiastic yourself, and in sharing that enthusiasm with others. Finally, keep reminding yourself of the paradox that humility is an essential ingredient of leadership success, while arrogance is almost always a causal ingredient of leadership failure.

With that, I'd like to thank Joe for this awesome column and to personally encourage each of you to "exercise your right brain."