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The Future Of Leadership – Accessing Our Three Brains

Written by: Traci Philips, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


If you have spent any time at all in the world of leadership over the past few years, you will have heard words like “empathy,” “collaboration,” “workplace culture,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “employee experience.”

The current changes we have all been navigating have shifted us from the face-to-face experience of being with one another to a virtual and distanced reality where we are challenged to find ways to stay connected while being separated from one another.

In some cases, we have been spending much more time with those in our immediate families and circles than ever before. This, too, has challenged and placed a spotlight on how well we manage our relationships and get along with others.

All in all, this time has driven us to look more closely at our interpersonal skills and development and how it all affects our environments. This is a great thing, as both our strengths and weaknesses have become plainly obvious, both to us as individuals, and as collective cultures.

Just as a diamond cannot be formed without pressure, we cannot move through real, sustainable change and towards improvement without discomfort, messiness and a break-down of old paradigms that no longer serve us.

When it comes to leadership and what is being called for as we move forward, we will need leaders who know how to create stability, trust, faith, and real, human connection both in their immediate physical environments and from a distance. This means these people will have to embody these traits and develop them within the very core of their being, not just practice them as an external checklist to accomplish a given goal. In this new world, there is no “faking it.” We are being called to rise to the challenge of bettering ourselves within to improve the world around us.

When I first began coaching, I would have some potential clients question the ability to feel fully supported by a coach they weren’t meeting with face-to-face. Not only have I always conducted client sessions virtually, I have also always done them over the phone. This means my clients only have my voice to interact with during our time together. There have been, even before the pandemic, very intentional reasons for this, on my end. My auditory senses increase without the distractions of seeing or physically interacting with clients, and with this, my innate talent for reading patterns in language that lead me to better understand what is hidden behind the spoken word also sharpen.

They say, when one of our senses goes away the others become enhanced. We hone our skills when we can focus on them. For me, as I minimize distractions to my ability to listen, at all levels, I maximize my value to my clients.

As leaders, we are being shown a new path. It requires us to develop all of our capacities to the greatest degree of their innate potential. It is not only the physical senses but other senses, as well, that we will need to evolve in the years to come.

Head Brain, Heart Brain, Gut Brain

When I talk about “listening on all levels” I mean with my head, heart, and gut. The 5 physical senses that we have – hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste - are all connected to our head brain. We measure the head brain information through what we call IQ – our Intelligence Quotient. What comes through our 5 physical senses is registered and processed through the brain in our head.

But, did you know we have two other brains, as well?

According to Neuroscience, we have three brains, not one. There are cellular structures in our head brain and in our heart and gut regions that are connected and share information back and forth. In fact, in order to process the full extent of available information from our inner and external environments, it is essential to have both health and effective development within each of these three brains. Up to this point, only focusing on what our head brains can access has left us functioning on, at best, one-third of this obtainable information.

Interestingly, there is also a growing body of leadership literature that points to the fastest-growing, most innovative, and best places to work as companies with leaders at the helm who have developed and tapped into the benefits of leading from their three brains.

Just as the head brain is measured through the physical 5 senses, there are 5 other internal mirror senses that we also have at our disposal.

Internal Sense No.1

Inner Voice: this is the mirror to our physical sense of hearing. Just as we need to move from hearing to listening in order to understand and work with what our external auditory sense picks up, we must, too, develop an ability to distinguish this inner voice, which is tied to both our heart and guts brains, to hear and listen to what it has to share with us.

Internal Sense No.2

Intuition: This is sometimes referred to as “inner sight” or insight. It is the mirror sense to external sight. This is our ability to “see” or know things that are not visible to the eye and even, at times, don’t align with rational understanding. This sense is often tied with the gut-brain, although there could be information that we collect through our emotional heart-brain center that plays into our intuition.

Internal Sense No.3

Emotional Touch: We have heard sayings like, “that sentiment touched my heart,” and “I was deeply touched by his kindness.” This speaks to the heart brain’s ability to internally feel the vibrational sentiment of someone’s words and actions. When we feel heartache or joy over a simple thought, without any physical interference, this is our heart-brain connecting vital information and sending us cues. The ability to truly practice empathy, for example, is only available to those who have open access to their heart brains.

Internal Sense No,4

Inner Smell: There is that well-known saying, “I smell a rat!” This speaks to our specific sense of identifying where things are not congruent or on the up and up. When we sense or “smell” danger, this is our fourth internal sense letting us know that we are picking up critical information that we need to acknowledge, process, and consider.

Internal Sense No.5

Discernment/Inner Taste: In order to develop personal boundaries, we must grow our fifth sense of discernment. This is when we say things like, “that experience left a bad taste in my mouth,” and “that isn’t really my taste in clothing style.” Simply recognizing what we like and don’t like, personally, or what is comfortable or uncomfortable for us is not enough. Acting on discernment allows us to create a safe place for ourselves and others. With clearly set rules of engagement, everyone knows what to expect and the parameters within which to interact. The ability to create and sustain safe and secure environments is one of the top traits desired in leaders according to recent polls.

As a final note, I mentioned that the head brain is aligned with the concept of IQ. Similarly, the heart and gut brains also have quotients that are used to measure our abilities to process and utilize information within and from these brains. The heart-brain is measured in EQ or Emotional Quotient and the gut-brain is measured in PQ or Percipience Quotient.

So far, we have spent years studying and focusing on IQ. More recently, we have dived into the waters of understanding the place and significance of EQ, but we have barely begun to look at or investigate the role of PQ in human potential and leadership.

As with all things, it will be exciting to see what does develop and how it changes our understanding of our own capacities and what that means to the future of how we interact, innovate, influence and lead.

Want to learn more from Traci? Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or visit her website.


Traci Philips, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

As an Executive Leadership & Performance Strategist, Traci Philips supports visionary business owners and corporate executives to learn and practice better communication, resolution strategies, decision-making, and leading during times of change and when the stakes are high. A three-year stint co-facilitating a men's transformational program for industry leaders incarcerated in Federal Prison taught Traci more than she could ever have learned elsewhere about high-stakes leadership and the cost of bad decision-making. This experience fueled a passion in her to help top leaders learn what they needed to know so they wouldn't end up losing what matters most. Her ultimate goal is to support her clients to live authentically and lead powerfully by creating more awareness about who they are, how they want to be seen, and what legacy they want to leave behind. Traci is the co-host of Eavesdrop in the Moment, a bi-weekly podcast that discusses current trends and leadership. Her book, Looking In: Discover, Define and Align the True Value of Your Life, Leadership and Legacy is helping leaders around the globe increase their confidence and self-identity to meet leadership demands and their personal performance potential.



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