One of my favorite books is The Developing Mind by Dan Siegel, the founder and leading thinker in interpersonal neurobiology. When Siegel talks about consciousness, he’s not just talking about the brain; he’s talking about the entire being. Siegel explains that every aspect of us has developed in response to our environment to make it more effective for us to be safe and grow in our lives. He sees the consciousness of a single human being not as an isolated entity but as a node in a web, made to work together with other humans and the entire living earth, interfacing continuously with our environment.
Leaders who want to grow, expand and become more effective must take on new experiences, visit new places, and develop new disciplines that carry them deep into territory they otherwise would not have been exposed. Siegel’s views on human consciousness illustrate why this is important for development.
We all have a unique set of interests, passions, and experiences. And so, when we want to be better leaders, when we want to be better at what we’re doing, the path towards improvement is not just exposing ourselves to new ideas but giving ourselves new experiences.
While working with a team at the World Bank, learning how to implement knowledge management, we started going on field trips to other organizations that were already using their know-how to get better results. The field trips were transformational and allowed us to learn the finer elements of knowledge management and larger overarching aspects, like work culture.
I encourage leaders, especially those who want to lead transformational initiatives, to go out and visit organizations, meet with leaders on their turf, expose yourselves to the different worlds possible, and become enriched by that. You then can carry, transpose, and adapt what you’ve learned to your leadership style and organizations.