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  • Writer's pictureKatharine McLennan

"GQ" Gut Intelligence in Leadership

by Katharine McLennan

Whilst some of you would jump to the conclusion that this post might be about why we love tall, dark and handsome men as leaders as Malcolm Gladwell showed us in Blink, the GQ I am referring to is not Gentlemen Quarterly, but rather Gut Intelligence. 


Having studied rats’ brains and the effect of neurotransmitters on their anxiety in university, I’ve been working for many years trying to determine how we can link the neuroscience world to the corporate strategic and leadership world. My studies, coaching and teachings have lingered at the head - the brain. Until now. 

Thanks to an introduction to a beautiful doctor from a few years ago, I was suddenly confronted with an explanation of my own brain challenges that were actually not located in the head component of my brain — but actually in the gut.

What was happening in my gut was much further down the causal change in the explanation of why my own leadership, innovation and influence could not be as strong as I would have liked over my late 30s and 40s.  Over the last year, I have changed my gut and in doing so, I have significantly changed my brain, my health, and my leadership presence.  

I am now on the board of which is an awesome grass-roots organisation of parents, doctors and healers who are studying and teaching the latest science of how the health of our gut impacts the function of our brain in conditions such as autism, ADHD, anxiety, allergies and auto-immune disease — particularly on assisting children and their families.

During the daytime I work for the About my Brain Institute assessing and teaching leadership in organisations through the lenses of a much wider definition of “brain” - -the heart, the gut, and the head. We apply pragmatic exercises that address the type of leader we need for the 21st century, a leader who looks very different than the 58% of Fortune 500 companies who have been headed up by a male over 6 feet (compared to population norm of 14.5%) .  

If you want to understand leadership development for the 21st century, join our i4 Neuroleader Certification, where we bring together sleep scientists, gut specialists, neuroscientists, artists, cognitive behaviour psychologists, corporate leadership experts. This program really shows what is possible in the world of leadership behaviour change.

We can no longer do it through ONLY the cognitive thinking changes that our 20th century leadership development programs have been designed around.

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