Just the other week I was giving a presentation to a group of top executives who were participants in a Wharton Business School Executive Education Program. The subject was Instinctual Leadership (IL), a term I coined based on my knowledge of the evolutionary sciences.
In a nutshell, I explained IL is based on the thought that the brain is like a tool box with a collection of instinctual tools that have been designed through evolution and natural selection to help you solve adaptive problems -- problems that every member of every species of every generation must solve if it is to survive and ultimately to thrive. For example, one problem that every member of every species in every generation has to solve if it is to survive is protecting their vulnerabilities. This is why every species is hardwired to care-solicit, to ask for help. A fetus is asking mother for help early on so it can protect its vulnerabilities.
Using your instinctual tools to solve adaptive problems is the essence of instinctual leadership, and according to the irrefutable scientific process of natural selection, those individuals who can apply their instinctual tools most broadly are the most effective leaders and thereby increase their organization's ecological niche -- the role it plays in its environment, be it financial services, auto, health care, consumer electronics, retail, or service.
The group found the concept fresh, scientifically grounded, and provocative. After some lively discussion, somebody in the class asked if I think President Obama is an Instinctual Leader.
Is he? Do you think the President uses the genius of his instincts -- the natural success tools Mother Nature has given to all of us?
My answer was a resounding yes. I'll give you several examples that I gave to the class. Already, the President has shown his care, giving instincts by advocating and passing the Children's Health Insurance Program. The function of care -- developing the future by providing health to all children -- becomes one way to apply care-giving instincts. Contrast this to the last President who did not pass this bill -- was he an effective leader?
I'd also say that President Obama is using his cooperative instincts, a hardwired gift from Mother Nature to ensure that we work together. One of the mechanisms that evolved cooperation is "fair play." Those of us who have had the tax advantages over the last decade might not like it, but it is hard to refute that the President is trying to level the playing field, make the system a little "fairer." Capping executive compensation for those that received government bailouts is an example of this--failed executives will not be rewarded, they will be treated like everyone else who doesn't get the job done.
In his Inauguration speech, President Obama declared that "curiosity" will be one of the core values of his administration, thus support cutting edge scientific research. This tells me he's connected to his curiosity instinct, the function of which is to accelerate our learning, in this case, to keep America ahead of the pack. Again, compare this to the values of the last President -- did he strike you as a curious individual?
And let's not forget the President's and First Lady's instinctual connection to their beauty instincts. Their emphasis on making our neighborhoods safe and clean places to live, enhancing the quality of our schools, protecting our environment, and reclaiming our identity as World Leader, will clearly make the World desire America, from our products to our vacation spots.
I don't know about you but I'd bet that when all is said and done, President Obama will be evaluated as a great President. My confidence is based on the fact that he is using the genius of his instincts, and that will enhance all of our lives!