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Sandra McDowell

Founder & Lead Faculty

Executive, Author, Speaker | MA, PCC, CPHR, SHRM-SCP

As the founder and voice behind the globally recognized eLeadership Academy™, Sandra McDowell is sounding the alarm that brain health is under threat. In her talks, she captivates audiences by blending theory, story and practice to help leaders and organizations increase their performance by harnessing the untapped power of the brain.

With relevant content, relatable examples, and practical takeaways, Sandra’s engaging sessions spark a bold conversation about the power of human connection, brain health and well-being, and increased focus and accountability.

"Connecting neuroscience with leadership, everyone in the audience was equipped with new tools to make them better leaders professionally and personally. Her ability to speak from her experiences as both "topic expert" and industry leader, resonated well with our audience and ignited excitement, engagement and participation from attendees."

C. Ostrowski

Biography

With nearly two decades of executive experience and advanced certifications in Leadership, NeuroLeadership, and Human Resources, Sandra is a trusted authority on the application of neuroscience for leadership.

She founded eLeadership Academy to help professionals advance their capacity for courageous, human-centric leadership by harnessing the untapped power of the brain, and the program has proven itself to be a success. Its cohort-based programs boast an exceptional completion rate, with 100% of participants indicating that they would recommend eLeadership Academy to colleagues.

Sandra is the author of Your Mother Was Right: 15 Unexpected Lessons About Leadership and the Brain, and she continues to inspire organizations and professionals internationally through her programs, speaking engagements, webinars, and executive coaching.

INVITE SANDRA TO SPEAK BLOG

Speaking Topics

The Neuroscience of Leadership:  Harnessing the Untapped Power of the Human Brain

This is the leadership conversation that nobody is having, but everyone should. Bridging the gap between brain research, human behavior and 21st century leadership, Sandra sounds the alarm that we need to take action to fuel and protect the human brain, our personal leadership supercomputer.

In this session, Sandra walks listeners through the new research on neuroscience, educating and inspiring audiences to harness the capacity of their brains for supercharged performance, connection, focus, and well-being. Both fascinating and highly empowering, this talk will arm attendees with the motivation and knowledge to improve personal performance and leadership effectiveness.

 

Leading with Heart and Backbone: How Connection and Accountability Foster a Resilient Culture

Heart of gold or backbone of steel? Effective leaders have both. A successful balance is struck when leaders are both tough and nice, and research confirms that employees are more engaged as a result. Leading with heart fuels collaboration, trust, and in-group cohesion, while leading with backbone fosters accountability, performance, and results. 

Within the session, Sandra covers the neuroscience of the social brain, the importance of courageous leadership, and techniques for handling difficult conversations. Leading with both heart and backbone inspires trust and commitment from others in order to achieve shared goals and vision. Attendees take an online assessment to determine their balance of heart and backbone, and then take away strategies to harness the power of both.

 

The Twin Powers of Expectations and Focus: You Get What You Expect. 

Is your glass half full or half empty? It depends on your expectations. Research has shown that the outcome we expect of a situation (positive or negative), determines our focus, what we hear and ultimately, what transpires. Leveraging the twin powers of expectation and focus plays a critical role in achieving a positive outcome. 

In this talk, Sandra teaches the concept of self-efficacy—the principle that believing in the ability to succeed impacts the ability to succeed. Within this session, Sandra will share thoughts on how to foster a growth mindset to support the achievement of goals. 

The Coach Approach:  A Powerful Leadership Tool to Cultivate Solution-Based Thinking

Coaching is the most powerful and underutilized tool in a leader’s toolbox. When leaders ask questions, it shifts the responsibility of problem solving to others, which increases confidence, innovation, engagement and accountability. 

In this talk, Sandra provides insights on when to ‘coach’ and when to ‘manage’, and presents effective models for both styles of leadership. Her anecdotes and research inspire and help build confidence in how to use coaching to cultivate solution-based thinking. Participants will leave armed with an enhanced framework for communication that will engage, empower, and inspire forward action. 

Clients

Sandra has delivered talks, workshops and keynote speeches to small and large audiences with over 3000 attendees. These are a few of the companies that have invited Sandra to speak.

Sandra's mission to educate and inspire the next generation of powerful leaders has taken her around the globe.

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Testimonials

Sandra was rated No.1 breakout speaker with her session on The Neuroscience of Leadership. Her topic resonated with the audience and really made a great impression on those who attended her breakout. We noticed a spike in the comments section of the conference app when Sandra spoke. I could see the nodding and the palpable engagement that the audience had. It was the relevance of the topic and how effectively and professionally she delivered the message. We were very fortunate to have her as a speaker and facilitator in Belfast and would recommend Sandra as she is an outstanding speaker and the definition of a professional.”

- Víctor Miguel Corro

Speaking Event: WOCCU Conference, Ireland

 

We contracted Sandra to do an all-day session. She was the consummate professional from start to finish. I worked closely with Sandra in the months leading up to the conference and I can genuinely say that every communication was a treat. The program was outstanding and people who attended have commented that it was our best ever.  Besides WYCUP, Sandra also facilitated a breakout session on Millennials, and presented her own breakout session on Mindful Leadership, which was rated as the number one session at our entire conference. 

- Will Harris

Speaking Event: WYCUP, Ireland

 

Sandra served as keynote speaker, bringing together men and women from 20+ countries to learn about leading with the heart and backbone. She was a rock star! Connecting neuroscience with leadership, everyone in the audience was equipped with new tools to make them better leaders professionally and personally. Her ability to speak from her experiences as both "topic expert" and industry leader, resonated well with our audience and ignited excitement, engagement and participation from attendees. Leading up to the event, Sandra worked incredibly hard to ensure her presentation aligned with our program’s goals, and she went above and beyond after the forum by continuing to share her expertise with attendees during the remainder of the conference. 

- Calyn Ostrowski

Speaking Event: GWLN, Vienna

 

Sandra is a fabulous speaker! Her knowledge about leadership and mindfulness were valuable contributions to our lives and careers. She gave us so many lessons and tips to help us improve our leadership through a wonderful speech. I could hear Sandra for days. She was also very committed to our event and got engaged with the audience that was Portuguese language speakers. No barrier encountered. She made it happen!

- Gisele Gomes

Speaking Event: Women’s Leader Summit, Brazil

We couldn't have had a better fit for a speaker at our conference than Sandra. She received rave reviews from all conference attendees, who took away valuable insight and actionable items from her half-day workshop. Sandra was a pleasure to work with right from the planning stages to the follow-up afterwards, and we hope to continue working with her to further explore neuroleadership, emotional intelligence, and being a leader from the inside out.

- Jocelyne Rowsell

Speaking Event: CUYLM Conference, Canada

'Very engaging’ are the words that come to mind when I think about Sandra. She has served as a breakout speaker and facilitated a deep dive presentation to our credit union leader members. Our members found her presentations very practical and interactive. Sandra would be a true asset for any organization requiring a professional speaker to engage an audience on leadership and the coaching culture.

- James Lenz

Speaking Event: CUES, USA 

 I had the opportunity to participate in a session Sandra led called "Mindful Leadership: Leading Self and Others with the Brain in Mind". Her presentation was interactive and professional. But more importantly it was innovative and thought provoking. The topic was new to me and allowed me to give pause to reflect on how Mindful Leadership plays a role in both my professional and personal life. Fabulous on so many levels.

- Kari Sweeney

Speaking Event: CUES, USA

Sandra is a pleasure to work with and worked very hard to ensure that her session, "Mindful Leadership" was a good fit for our attendees. Neuroleadership and discussions about the brain can be daunting, but Sandra sprinkled funny and memorable anecdotes throughout her presentation that immediately made the situations relatable for our audience. Her pleasant and calming stage presence is a delight and her warm personality shines brightly. I would not hesitate to recommend Sandra as a speaker!

- Judy Kucharuk

Speaking Event: Spark Women's Leadership Conference, Canada

As one of the conference organizers, I cannot say enough about how important it is to provide your conference attendees with thoughtful and engaging content. Sandra’s session on ‘The Neuroscience of Leadership’ fit the bill perfectly. The session was very well received and attendees gained valuable insight that when leaders better understand the brain and what drives engagement and disengagement, they can more effectively lead others. I would highly recommend Sandra as a professional speaker.

- Melissa Harder

Speaking Event: Central1 Conference, Canada

The Book on the Brain and Leadership

Through the course of Sandra's studies in the field of neuroleadership, she discovered an ironic truth: our mothers were even wiser than we thought! Your Mother Was Right demonstrates how most of the common pitfalls of brain function can be overcome simply by following mom's advice. Integrating truths straight from your mother's rule book, Sandra shows you how many of the lessons that your mother shared were legitimately rooted in neuroscience even if she didn't know it at the time!

This book will teach you how to lead yourself and others with the brain in mind, in order to optimize engagement and performance. Your Mother Was Right is an easy to read, relatable, and memorable experience that proves your mother had the answers all along.

 

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