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Why chimp-like behaviour could be spoiling your chances of leadership success

Professor Steve Peters, author of The Chimp Paradox, suggests optimum business performance will be achieved when applying logic over impulse

Peters is a leading sports psychiatrist and his latest book reveals that we need to tame our ‘inner chimp’ to maximise our potential. He explains that this is the part of our brain that is fuelled by instinct and impulse and that it needs holding back; otherwise, it can have disastrous consequences.

The sports psychiatrist is renowned for motivating Team GB athletes, England footballers and the British cycling team, while his consultancy firm Chimp Management helps many small- and medium-sized businesses to achieve their full potential. The Chimp Paradox, his latest book, looks set to help everyone from leading CEOs to the most successful athletes through the control of these impulsive emotions.

Peters comments that having command and being able to organise your brain will not only be beneficial to you but also those around you, both personally and professionally. He goes on to say that by doing this, everyone from business owners to those wanting to win the World Cup will achieve ‘optimum performance’ because they are applying logic over impulse.

Glenn Mead, a consultant at Chimp Management, adds that recognising the need to express emotions is the first stage. It is OK to let this out, provided everyone else around you knows what you are doing; however, he also says that keeping a lid on emotions is a must and it is crucial that you don’t let them take over, particularly when you are put under pressure. Ultimately, if you are happy, you are more likely to get better results from yourself and the people surrounding you.

Mead comments that many small businesses will stipulate that their workforce is their best asset; therefore, is the happiness of the leader influencing the team and making the individuals happy as a result?

The strength and control a business owner/manager has over their own head will have a positive impact on those around them, while one who lacks emotion could impact the implementation of business strategies and thus the success of projects.

Peters goes on to say that if companies have a punitive culture, they may succeed; however, they will also create a lot of stress along the way, which will result in casualties. He asks whether it is an ethical way of working when companies get rid of stressed employees and deem them a ‘casualty’.

Mentally managing the chimp will allow a clear head and impressive leadership skills; in turn, this will create further confidence and happiness. Peters also reveals that this does not just happen at work, as he has had many wives come to him to say that it has also improved things at home.

Mead suggests that if you find yourself disappointed and need to have a rant because the chimp is taking over briefly, try to do this away from others so you don’t impact them. To do this, you will need to understand your chimp, as this won’t be the same for each individual. Take a walk, find somewhere quiet and deal with it in your own way.

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