FacebookFacebook icon TwitterTwitter icon LinkedInLinkedIn icon Email
Natan Dumlao-unsplash

Brain circuits

An exercise to assess whether your leaders (or you) may need to change

Published 12 January 2022 in Brain circuits • 2 min read

As the pandemic wears on, people’s nerves are becoming more frayed, with stress levels rising. It falls upon leaders to manage their teams’ energy and smooth the tensions of hybrid working even if things will return to a semblance of normality.

If you feel like your teams aren’t operating well, the first thing you need to do is examine your own leadership style. This is an uncomfortable exercise, but critical to changing an office dynamic that is unsatisfactory. I’ve sought the advice of some of the great coaches I know and received some excellent and actionable advice to help leaders connect with their people.

The exercise.

Take a moment and carefully consider the office dynamics (hybrid or otherwise) which you find concerning. Write down what you believe the problem to be.

Now ask yourself: are these issues coming from team leaders beneath you who want to change or are you the one setting the tone?

Do you feel like you are connecting with people on an authentic level?

Do you feel like you are able to mobilize people?

Do you feel like you are able to sustain the energy of your people?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, do not worry there are effective techniques you can use to change things. Sit down and think about the impact you would like to have on your people. Often, the most difficult part about improving work dynamics is for leaders to admit that they may need to change to help the situation. If you have crossed this bridge, then it is easy to find the right path to follow.

If you have leaders serving underneath you that are struggling to connect with their teams, have them try this exercise as well. Once they realize they may be having a negative impact on the organization, it is much easier to motivate them to change.


Michael Watkins - IMD Professor

Michael D. Watkins

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at IMD

Michael D Watkins is author of The First 90 Days, Master Your Next Move, Predictable Surprises, and 11 other books on leadership and negotiation. A Thinkers 50-ranked management influencer and recognized expert in his field, his work features in HBR Guides and HBR’s 10 Must Reads on leadership, teams, strategic initiatives, and new managers. He taught at Harvard, where he gained his PhD in decision sciences, and INSEAD before joining IMD, where he directs The First 90 Days and Transition to Business Leadership programs.


Learn Brain Circuits

Join us for daily exercises focusing on issues from team building to developing an actionable sustainability plan to personal development. Go on. They only take five minutes.
Read more 

Explore Leadership

What makes a great leader? Do you need charisma? How do you inspire your team? Our experts offer actionable insights through first-person narratives, behind-the-scenes interviews and The Help Desk.
Read more

Join Membership

Log in here to join the conversation with the I by IMD community. Your subscription grants you access to the quarterly magazine plus daily articles, videos, podcasts and learning exercises.
Sign up

You have 4 of 5 articles left to read.