Self-management as a product of brain process awareness

How aware are we of how we affect others and vice versa? 

A DCI (Directive Communication International) leadership study involving 70 different organisations with a headcount of between 400 and 600 determined that the one key factor in the characteristics of a leader who can achieve targets and fully engage his/her team is an awareness of Self and how they are affecting the people around them. The best leaders were largely aware of the psychology behind emotion, process, perception and group dynamics.

They had the mind tools of self-management.

Many of the issues with self-management arise from our expectations of people around us not being met.

We found the ability to self-manage is interdependent on the ability to know how we affect others and how others affect us. There are two factors that largely affect this awareness to support effective self-management, namely:

  1. how we do things; and
  2. why we do things.

Our how – the processes we use to approach a project, an idea or a solution – is unique. Using the Coloured Brain Process Model, it is simple to define four unique genetic processes that define how we interpret the world around us and how we get clarity. This also outlines the unique sequences of how we take action for or through that clarity.

Many of the issues with self-management arise from our expectations of people around us not being met. This causes a reaction. When we are reacting, we are not acting intelligently. When we are not acting intelligently, we are not in the best position to achieve our goals and thus we react some more. The reaction is the impediment to self-management.

Processes for achievement are not confined to specific processes; each person has a success strategy and it is linked to the foundational process they use to gain clarity on an objective. Barriers to self-management usually arise from conflicting processes. Because we are successful in our own approaches, we often impose these approaches or success strategies on those around us, believing that they will succeed better if they use a process that has proven to work for us. When they do not use what we believe to be the correct process, we react.

Awareness of our own process and the strengths and weaknesses that go with it helps us to identify our success strategies for communication and achievement. This enables us to manage our expectations when dealing with people around us who may have different processes. It supports focusing on the objective and not the process.

By understanding the different processes and success strategies used by others, we can be more objective and deal with potential conflict situations more intelligently and without reaction. We are also more equipped to identify the potential miscommunication or misinterpretation that may occur, thus exhibiting intelligent self-management.

In addition to a more self-managed, cognitive approach to projects or problem solving, we also have the potential to set people up for success instead of failure. Since our awareness averts imposing our processes on others which inevitably causes dissatisfaction, frustration or half-hearted implementation, we now can leverage the strengths associated with their process to improve outcomes for all.

The Coloured Brain model defines the four processes as follows:

Chaotic Processing (Green Brain)

With the chaotic process, nothing is connected. To get clarity, a Green Brain will start with a small amount of information and then take some type of action to get clarity. The action could be brainstorming, prototyping, designing and even creating. The initial results are then revised to see if it is in line with the original big picture or concept or if there are improvements that can be made on the original idea.

The chaotic process is one of shaping and reshaping in the process of action and feedback from the actions taken. Because of their action orientation, Green Brains make more mistakes than any other Brain processer, but because of the same action orientation, they recover from mistakes faster than any other brain colour.

Linear Processing (Red Brain)

With a linear process, structure is the key to clarity, and they must have clarity before feeling comfortable with taking action.  A Red Brain will identify the important facts related to a solution, idea or project, each component is cross-referenced and analysed to outline the potential or expected outcome and get clarity on multiple elements of the potential result. This is then cross-referenced again and again to get further clarity until a clear outline of the full result is envisioned. The process is a linear, structured ascension of clear components to reveal the clear big picture.

If the envisioned result is in line with the expectation, then the Red Brain will move forward and take action. If however, the result is not in line with the expectation or there appears to be a mistake, then they will need to revisit the original facts. Red Brains make the least number of mistakes of any other brain colour, but if they do make a mistake, they take the longest to recover.

Relational Processing (Purple Brain)

With a relational processor, everything is connected and related through data. The more data that a Purple Brain has, the more clarity that emerges. As a Purple Brain gathers information, it is immediately connected to related information until multiple clear options appear. Once these options are clear, they are then compared to identify which would be the best option based on the requirement to achieve the objective.

The same systematic approach is then translated into action. This process takes more time than other brain colours. But, if a Purple Brain makes a mistake, they already have most of the information required, so it becomes a matter of reviewing the existing options with a little more information to make a new choice and act on it.

Intuitive Processing (Blue Brain)

With an intuitive processor, everything is also connected, but it is connected through emotional sensitivity. The Blue Brain is feeling, acting, analysing and gathering information simultaneously. Their stronger connection to their subconscious provides unconscious access to experiences they are not consciously aware of.

The coloured brain is not about behaviour or personality but only about the process by which one would achieve clarity and move on that clarity.

There often appears to be no specific logic to the development of ideas, solutions or project. Clarity emerges as a product of connecting experience (including subconscious experience), knowledge and an immediate acute sensitivity to people and their surroundings to the objective. Action is taken through reflection and as clarity surfaces. If a Blue Brain makes a mistake, they reflect and associate the issue with environment, experience and the elements of the objective itself, then redefine the direction.

Of course, all brain colours can exhibit various behaviours. The coloured brain is not about behaviour or personality but only about the process by which one would achieve clarity and move on that clarity. For example, a Green Brain is very capable of doing analysis but unlike a Red Brain’s Linear analysis process, they will analyse by creating scenarios in their head, not linear structures of reference.

The second component of why is equally as strong an influence as how and affects the intensity of how important clarity is, thus increasing or decreasing the barriers to action. This will be discussed in the second part of this article.

Appreciation of the different coloured brain processes and the different hows, improves our ability to actively focus on objectives and solutions through our lives. This awareness supports effective self-management to intelligently achieve more fulfilment with less frustration and reaction.

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Headline image of  the Coloured Brain Process Model courtesy of the author.

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