Strength, adaptability, discernment, grit, and tenacity. These were identified in 2017 by Forbes as the top traits of every powerful female leader.
The problem is that our chemical makeup, as women, is predisposed to a natural disinclination toward these traits, leaving us to face an uphill climb. Thankfully, there are methods we can employ to impact our chemistry in such a way that our ability to develop these traits is increased, translating into powerful business successes.
Neuroscience refers to a structure of nerves in the brain as the ‘worry wart’ center. This center is larger in women than in men, resulting in chronic anxiety being far more common for women than for men.
This constant anxiety translates into us, as women, naturally using up our Serotonin quickly, as we’re processing and handling too much information at one time and constantly worrying. Serotonin is a natural mood regulator that is often referred to as “nature’s happy pill.” When Serotonin is present in our brains, we are emotionally stable, more focused, more energized, and less anxious. All of which are not just helpful but necessary elements to us being confident, adaptable, discerning, passionate, and determined powerful leaders.
Increasing our Serotonin must then be a critical focus for women in leadership. Our business success is literally riding on it. We can increase our Serotonin and enhance its positive effects on our brain through mood-regulating medications, but research shows that there are natural means of doing so that are just as, if not more, effective.
Having a diet that is centered on proteins is a great starting place. Eat salmon, poultry, eggs, soy, nuts and seeds. Then add in some spinach or other leafy greens. And, research shows again that milk does a body good. Put down the bread and pasta; as yummy as they taste, you know you feel terrible after eating them.
Our bodies were meant to move. Get outside and go for a walk (sunshine and natural Vitamin D also help to increase Serotonin—bonus!). Do some walking meetings. Find a group of other women to form a walking, hiking, or dance group. Don’t force yourself to do some sort of fitness that you loathe, find something that is enjoyable to you.
We need to anchor our day in stillness, quietness, reflection, and/or journaling. We are able to regulate our moods far better when we stop and intentionally bring ourselves into a mindful state of tranquility, even if just for 10 minutes.
Don’t just sit in meetings or stare at your computer screen all day. Spend time bonding with other human beings. Get to know the people around you on a personal level. As trust is established between us and others, we feel safer and feelings of safety result in a healthier, happier brain.
Our ability to succeed as powerful business leaders is very much within our control. By nurturing the chemistry of our brains, we set ourselves up to be strong, adaptable, discerning, perseverant, determined leaders.