As an SME owner, the growth of your business is front of mind – pun intended, as that’s exactly where it should be, to accelerate and grow your SME.
As an SME owner, the growth of your business is front of mind – pun intended, as that’s exactly where it should be, to accelerate and grow your SME. Here are 3 leadership keys to keep in mind to accelerate your SME growth in 2022 and onwards.
Be a mindful Leader
All the keys belong to what we refer to as cognitive control. Also called executive function, cognitive control is the scientific name used to describe a series of neurocognitive processes – the functions – especially required for the control of behaviour to facilitate your goals. These functions – think of them as thinking processes, such as planning, working memory, cognitive flexibility, strategizing, sequencing, problem-solving and set-shifting, to name a few – develop progressively in your brain over the years.
The name ‘cognitive control’ was first coined by Michael Posner, a psychologist and influencer in this field in 1975; however, the earliest mention of these functions is attributed to Donald Broadbent, also a psychologist, in the 1940s. Neuroscientists and neuropsychologists have continued their research to bring us the insights we’ve learned so far. The PreFrontal Cortex (PFC), located in the frontal lobe of your brain, is the region of your brain that is primarily involved in cognitive control. If you put your hand right at the top of your forehead and then shift it back by about an inch, you will know where your PFC is.
By being a mindful leader, you can tune in your awareness to identify your weaknesses and your strengths – as well as do this throughout your enterprise, to help you focus on your executive functions. From there, use the power of your mind to rewire your brain and intensify the strengths of your executive functions. These three keys will help you do that as you take action: the more you mindfully do them in your enterprise, the strongest these cognitive functions will get as you and your business grow.
Spending time on your plan engages your cognitive control from the get-go. As you plan, you strategize, you prioritize, you sequence. It increases efficiency while reducing risks. All these action steps to manage and achieve your goal are leveraging these executive functions: planning; strategizing; sequencing. In addition, when you face adversity and alter the plan of action, you are utilizing a few more functions: cognitive flexibility, problem-solving and set-shifting. These help you to adjust flexibly to the unexpected as well as reduce the uncertainty, thus avoiding triggering the threat response.
Breaking all your goals into chunks engages your cognitive control at several levels. The reward system is particularly relevant here, as instead of only assigning a reward for the overall goal completion, you get to assign a series of rewards for each of the chunks along the way! This seriously builds momentum, and the dopamine releases help you and your team stay motivated. Talking about dopamine, you’ll also experience its good vibes effect as you tick off or strike through your various chunks.
Adding dates engages your cognitive control at a high level as, thanks to your PFC, you get to utilize the planning executive function. Plus, here let’s add another layer. Studies have shown that when it comes to deadlines, we respond with a higher sense of urgency when it is phrased in a number of days, so in addition to your goal-completion date and step-completion dates, do also specify these in deadlines – in other words, avoid thinking of a quarter deadline for instance and instead think of it as a 90-day one.
And voilà, there you have them. These three leadership keys help you be a mindful leader as you rewire your brain for success, and lead your SME towards continued growth and success.