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It starts with the Leader: The Potential of Mind-Management and Biohacking for the Digital Workplace

The topic of setting up a performance culture in organizations (for more context, see also the Ivey Business Journal article by Joanne Reid) to increase productivity and output has been the focus of leaders across industries in the past decades. There is nothing wrong with optimizing results based on a purposeful vision and mission.

However, the typically associated process with performance reviews is quite costly and comes with a long list of problems.

There is a motivation within organizations to increase the performance of individual contributors as well as leaders. However, such an approach usually leads to unnecessary high workload and costs to run the process for all people involved (especially the leaders), triggers internal competition, and may eventually result in a decreased level of collaboration.

It also gives rise to the ego in each individual (but also in teams). Therefore, it hinders communication, collaboration, and thus decreasing team productivity, employee engagement, and can even lead to toxic work environments.

The impact and output of an organization can be measured by a variety of business and financial KPIs, such as revenue growth, income sources, revenue concentration, profitability over time, working capital, and the net promoter score (NPS). All of those are directly depending on the most important asset of the company - the employee. It all depends on the combination of talent, skills, plus the level of intrinsic motivation (purpose), as well as engagement, which will then translate into output, results, and is reflected in these business metrics.

Presence - the most overlooked transformative Catalyst for Change and Growth

What has been overlooked in my opinion in the past years is the impact of the level of presence (or level of present awareness - LPA) to cultivate and establish a regular mind-management practice as a driver to better support the overall wellbeing, health, and energy levels in leaders and individuals.

Presence is the ability to stay connected with the present moment: Not getting distracted and identified with excessive thinking and being in a calm but alert state of mind.

The LPA is a metric that I defined to measure the percentage of the waking time of an individual (usually about 16 hours) where one is fully connected to the present moment and in such a “ flow” or alert state of mind. The units of measurements are mindful minutes. Those will be divided by 960 (16 hours or actual wake time), and you can obtain the LPA.

As an example, if you are doing a mindfulness exercise or meditation for 5 minutes, these are 5 mindful minutes.

Let’s say you used your bike to work for 10 minutes and were fully immersed in the surrounding nature and streets, not thinking about the past or future; these would also count toward your mindful minutes.

You can see that mindful minutes are not solely dependent on being in a sitting non-productive state like meditation. In fact, every activity (including meetings) you do can be done with a state of full alertness and presence.

Leadership evolved: The Mindful Leader

A leader with a high LPA and a trained mind is able to tackle problems with an increased level of focus, calmness, and clarity. Therefore, such a leader will perform better under stress and tap into their intuition, which results in higher quality and conscious decisions.

A high LPA is usually correlated with an increased level of emotional intelligence (EQ), enabling better communication and collaboration within the organization.

Such a leader is able to actually live the 12 Mindful Leadership Principles that I had published and suggested a few years ago, and develop their own unique (mindful) leadership style that focuses on purpose, mastery, and maximizing contributions on this planet for the greater good. I wrote an article about how to become a mindful leader that provides relevant context.

A health Mind is the prerequisite for a healthy Body

In addition, with an increased LPA and a trained mind, such a leader will be able to become aware of their body and make it a priority to promote well-being and health through the science and art of biohacking, which will result in an increase in cognitive levels and a flexible metabolism that delivers plenty of energy at any point in time to get stuff done.

There is quite some learning involved in getting started with biohacking. It is also recommended to work with a functional medicine practitioner or expert to avoid common mistakes and identify the key areas for focus.

A high LPA will keep you alert and provide you with the necessary persistence to generate sustainable results, as the human body, in my experience, takes its time to heal, especially when it was neglected for many years. Accountability and commitment will be supported through a high level of presence. You may fall back into old habits, but presence will hold you accountable and get you back on track.

Presence sparks a Ripple Effect throughout the Organization

Those leaders who exemplify a high LPA and an overall increased level of health are spreading this energy throughout the organization to everyone they come in contact with. Employees will notice and may become inspired. This generates a ripple effect throughout the whole organization.

And precisely this is now where the transformation of the organization happens, as employees try to adopt some of these values and behaviors of their leaders, also making their level of present awareness through the practice of mind-management and well-being (through the application of biohacking) a priority.

This will generate (some of) the following benefits (but not limited to):

  • Employee engagement will increase through a deeper alignment with their inner purpose and values

  • Overall sick days will decrease with an increased level of health and well-being

  • Communication and collaboration within teams and the organizations will greatly improve, as a higher LPA results in a mindset of unity and not competition, and training of the mind increases overall emotional intelligence (EQ)

  • Focus will increase through higher cognitive brain function

  • Energy levels are up significantly through improved mitochondrial health, leading to increased output and results. Employees can work harder under deadlines and are willing to do so as there is a clear connection of their work aligned to their purpose.

  • Output will be increased, which will positively be reflected in the key business metrics

  • Costly and tedious performance review processes can be streamlined and simplified, as performance problems are more the exception in such an environment and can be dealt with on a case by case basis.

How can we get there?

This vision requires a more radical change of mindset in the senior leadership team of organizations. Unfortunately, there has to be at least some level of presence, openness, and curiosity already within these senior leaders to explore new ways of working.

Usually, when I start working together with leaders on a systematic training program to upgrade their mind, it is typical that their measured LPA as a baseline usually runs around 1-2%. That means the majority of the time, the person (leader) is not connected with the present moment, running on auto-pilot routines and old habits, loops, thinking about the past and future, while engaging in daily activities and even while attending important meetings that would require a high level of alertness and presence. If you are actually alert and observe people in meetings, you can typically quickly spot if someone is present, or distracted with thoughts, or even social media smartphone usage.

The good news is that presence can be systematically trained (and measured). If combined with regular mind-management practice, this can lead to a truly transformative process for a person within a short amount of time (usually 3-6 months). Of course, it all depends on the LPA of the person getting started, the openness, and the commitment of time and resources to make this a constant priority.

I explained the concept and different aspects of mind-management in a separate article. These aspects are:

  • Be Aware

  • Relax & Recover (Finding Balance)

  • Reflect, Identity & Inquire

  • Toward Conscious Decisions and Manifestation

  • Letting Go

  • Forming Healthy Habits

  • Clarity on Purpose, Vision, Mission & Values

The idea here is that within each category to identify helpful methods, regularly apply them, and measure their impact. As we’re all different and unique, a mind-management practice, therefore, is, in the same way, a personalized process to manage and train your mind.

I’ve worked with a number of tech and business leaders in the past years, and the transformative results are convincing. I encourage you to review my testimonials on LinkedIn that state some of the results from leaders and how it impacts their personal and leadership growth.

Start with the Leaders

To summarize, the first steps are focusing on the leaders:

Step 1: Train leaders with the goal to increase their LPA

Step 2: Provide them with access to training and education on mind-management, biohacking, as well as technologies that support this learning

Obviously, this only works if there is interest to actually commit to this. If a leader is not interested and/or not committed, then this effort would be a waste of time.

Support Employees with Mind-management and Biohacking

With increased LPA, those leaders who are committed to their training will be able to tap better into their intuition and creativity to develop ideas on how to better support their teams on their journey of purpose, mastery, autonomy, and wellbeing.

For example, suppose you pick a small pilot team and provide each team member with an Oura ring to become more aware of their overall wellbeing. In that case, you are planting the seeds for more body awareness when it comes to optimizing sleep, nutrition, and exercise.

Or, if you provide a team with access to a Muse meditation headband and encourage them to use it once a day to optimize their stress levels (those typically rising in the afternoon), you will see lots of good changes happening organically.

Teams can set up some gaming structure around these technologies, for example, a weekly competition on sleep or readiness scores to promote wellbeing as a value and driver for productivity.

As people learn to use these types of technologies to upgrade their mind and body, and when they have the necessary support from the leadership team and even can observe that leaders are actually doing those things as well, then real transformation can happen.

This is how a new conscious workplace can form with little steps, resulting in the benefits pointed out above, and it all starts with the leader …

Take Action

If you want to become a better leader in tech, it all starts with increasing your level of presence, setting up a regular mind-management practise, and leveraging biohacking to increase your resilience - join the Mindful Tech Leaders to learn more how to get started.


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