“If you can learn to regulate your emotions, you can push into turbo when you need energy, and work longer and harder than the next guy. If you’re stressed, you can’t think outside the box,” she told delegates.
For Wax, some leaders are cognitively brilliant but have no idea how to connect with fellow employees. “The slogan of our times seems to be: ‘May the best man win, no matter how many heads roll’,” she quipped. “It’s in our DNA to bond with each other, but we’ve forgotten how to do it.”
If leaders can acknowledge and express their own flaws, this helps create trust, she argued. “Showing vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, it’s being human.”
Wax believes the key to exceptional leadership is curiosity – and she urged delegates to become curious about their teams. “Everybody wants to be heard and understood. Deep down, people don’t really care about targets, they only care if someone likes them or not,” she said.
Arguing that emotions are infectious, Wax proclaimed that the climate of any organisation is created by each individual’s emotional state, so if a leader is anxious it affects the whole company. She shared how mindfulness can help you become aware of what’s going on within yourself, so you can respond accordingly.
“You need to be aware of your tipping point,” she advised. “If you can read yourself you’ll know when it’s time to shut down the engine and re-boot. With too many windows open, your computer will crash – and it’s exactly the same with your self.”
More from Ruby Wax
To watch Ruby Wax's full presentation at the Future Talent Conference, click here
To read an exclusive in-depth interview with Ruby on the power of mindfulness and the scourge of stress, click here