Silence of the Lambs. A Lesson for Leaders!

Watch the video....

Now, take a moment....

What exactly did you feel?

  • Excitement?
  • Energy?
  • Fear?
  • Frozen?
  • Quickening of your pulse?

How did this happen? You know it is a movie with Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. How can it possibly make you feel anything? But I bet it did make you feel something.

An answer lies in a new book The Hidden Spring by world-renowned neuroscientist Mark Solms. He places feelings at the heart of all human consciousness and even hunts them down not to the amygdala or neocortex alone but to the brainstem itself. He shows us that feelings are a deep and ancient part of all mammalian brains that present as the 'hidden spring' of all consciousness.

The key point is that we have no control over the feelings generated in our 'hidden spring'. Our rational brain is still asleep as feelings flood through our consciousness. We may think that our logical thinking drives our actions, but alas it is our feelings that drive the show. (Good examples include politics, religion, sport and now more than ever conspiracy theories.)

The movie clip above simply demonstrates the fact that your feelings come first and most importantly, you have no control over them. Like wild horses they choose their own path.


Hopkins and Foster deliver the most powerful of messages for every leader. How you act will automatically trigger the 'hidden spring' of feelings in those around you. Forget the well worn call of 'you must be authentic'. If a leader is abrupt, narcissistic, a bully and a bad listener, far better if all of this is left at home.

What a leader needs is the insight and skill to act authentically. In other words be a great actor and become a great 'feeling' generator.

William Shakespeare understood this well when Jacques in As You Like It said:

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts...."

Just as becoming a good golfer requires firstly a modicum of talent and secondly a great coach and teacher, so becoming a great leader also requires a great teacher. It is all too easy to say a leader must be resilient, courageous, imaginative, inspiring, emotionally intelligent and purpose driven, but this is all as useless as telling a golfer to 'hit the ball straight'. It means absolutely nothing at all unless a leader is taught how to be and act these things. (Or whatever is actually deemed important in the real world.)


  1. Watch movies with a more critical eye. Look for the techniques, body language and use of voice. Observe how this affects how you feel.
  2. Look for videos that offer practical tips. Mark Bowden, a body language and communication expert, is a good starting point.
  3. Get feedback at work. Ask colleagues how your behaviour makes them feel. What works and what needs to change. Be bold. Ask for blunt and direct opinions and do this regularly. If you are a manager, this is really important.
  4. Get someone to take video clips of you in a meeting. You will learn much from this.
  5. Talk to friends and family outside of work. Again ask for honest feedback.
  6. Lastly and most important. Work with a professional acting coach. Your investment will be rewarded a hundred-fold.

And most importantly, enjoy your new acting journey. The sky is the limit. 

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