In the final part of this discussion with Dr. Martyn Newman, Europe’s leading Neuroscientist explains three key behaviours leaders should focus on to create workplaces fit for the future.
Martyn: A lot of people attending the EQ Summit this year have been for several years and they always walk away with a great deal of insight, but also tips, tactics, and strategies that they can implement within their lives and at work. If you were advising leaders in organizations today about the skills they need to be fit for the future as the world changes before their very eyes, what are three or four skills you would recommend that they focus on?
Susan: Okay, I think the first is to recognize or promote, both in themselves and others, the need for individuality and individual fulfilment. I think people tend to overlook that in the desire to be conforming or to have approval of others and so on, but I think the notion of being an individual is something that’s very important. That’s why I think you can have tattoos at the moment, you know? Because they want some kind of individuality that’s permanent and theirs. And it’s a rather sad way of achieving it, isn’t it? Just rubbing a bit of ink on your skin. But I think that’s the first thing.
“the first is to recognize or promote, both in themselves and others, the need for individuality and individual fulfilment.”
The second I think is in fact quite the opposite – to allow time to think. I really think one should reintroduce time windows and timeframes, you know? And the idea that there is a premium on doing things quickly, or multitasking, is wrong. I’d like to introduce, like with slow food, this idea of slow time. I think that’s a really important thing.
“The second I think is in fact quite the opposite – to allow time to think”
Third, and perhaps it should be top of the list, is physical exercise, without doubt. Everyone would agree with that. I myself play squash, and however horrible I feel and tired or hungover beforehand, I know I will always feel better afterwards. Always, always, always. Not necessarily on top form, but better than I did before. So I think, physical exercise in whatever way you do it, however you do it, is essential.
Third…is physical exercise…in whatever way you do it, however you do it, is essential.”
Martyn: Yeah, great. That’s very helpful, I think. At the Summit this year we’ve got some really big thinkers, some of the most creative minds, really, in the room. People like Sir Ken Robinson, who I know you know.
Susan: Yes, from a long time ago. We were on this working party for creativity a thousand years ago.
Martyn: Yes, well Ken’s gone on, as you know, to have developed a large following over recent years, and then of course, Dan Goleman who needs no introduction, Jeremy Darroch, who’s CEO of Sky, one of the fast-moving businesses in the world today. And then we’ve got Ruby Wax.
Susan: Oh, I know her, yes, I met her.
Martyn: She has a hugely popular book on mindfulness, and of course is a mental health advocate as well. So what are some of the big questions that you think this year’s EQ Summit needs to discuss if we’re to have some potentially lasting value for years to come, on the audience?
Susan: Okay. So, a lot of the time people know what they don’t want, and they’re always identifying problems with things, yeah? I’d like to turn that around to, okay, what is the ideal world? What would an ideal mid-21st century society look like? That’s my big question. What would it actually look like? Because you can’t say everyone’s got to be the same, but what kind of education system would we want? What kind of things would we implement practically and realistically? So, I think just facing up to saying, “Look, unless we have a package of what we’d like to see, then we’ll never be able to deliver it, and just saying what’s wrong or what’s bad or what we don’t like isn’t very helpful.
What we have to do is to say, “How can we harness creativity? How can we shape an environment where it flourishes? What can we do?” You know, if I was the Education Minister what would you tell me to do? So, I think we should start now to come out of the clouds and have a very hardheaded examination because, heavens, we need it. You know, if we don’t do this soon, we’re going have a load of people walking around with things in their ears like zombies, you know taking photos of themselves and with no attention span. Is that what we’ve evolved to do? I don’t think so.
Martyn: Look, I am confident you’re going to make an enormous contribution to this day, and you’re going to have a ton of fresh insights and practical strategies to share with us, I know. So, we’re very much looking forward to having you there, and I know delegates will have an opportunity to ask you some questions during the Q&A period as well.