Stop leading like an Ape…

Stop leading like an Ape…

We are unique. We have the most highly developed, intelligent brains on this planet. Our pre-frontal cortex accounts for a relatively minute part of our brain and nervous system and yet it has delivered powered flight, advanced medicine, Beethoven’s fifth, the internet and consciousness itself – “I think therefore I am”.

There is no doubt that we’re smart, but why do we have those smarts and how are we using them?

We are the product of millions of years of evolution. Our brains started out as a basic tool for survival – to sense danger and rewards in the physical environment. More recently in our evolutionary history, we developed a social radar as our survival increasingly depended on others. Status in the social group is critical to us. Rejection from the social group would mean no place by the fire, less food, no friend to stand up for you in a fight and no children. The larger the social groups, the more brain power needed to navigate relationships, communicate and co-operate. We went on to invent technologies and began shaping our surroundings to help us to survive and thrive… and the rest is history.

Our intelligence has evolved in service of our survival. Think about that for a second. The part of your brain that thinks, has working memory, knows you exist and can create a language of mathematics to describe the Universe emerged because incremental improvements in intelligence kept you alive long enough for your kids to become independent. Nothing more (or less) than that.

And what does this have to do with leadership?

This world needs a critical mass of leaders capable of using the evolutionary gift of intelligence in service of more than their own survival instinct and social status. We feel intelligent, and we are… but too often that intelligence is a slave to the drivers that helped our ancestors to survive millions of years ago. What kind of world could we create if we reversed the master-slave relationship? Imagine what might be possible if we loosened the chains, inherited through millennia, that hold us back from leading with a greater purpose in mind.

We need to upgrade ourselves… the old software is not up to the task. We need to stop leading like Apes.

How we might try to do that will be the topic of my next post… I need to think a bit more about it before I subject myself to potential rejection by you 😉

ps. I LOVE Apes, I just don’t want them running the show!