Surprising some, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation this week. Citing an empty tank after nearly six years of big challenges, she reminded everyone that politicians are human.

Any change in leadership triggers commentary. And opinions on this political changeover have been extensive, with points of view diverging significantly. Why? Because key person change is emotional and it also feels ridiculously personal.

How come? Inside groups (eg. business, sport, community, religious affiliations), it’s standard human behaviour to judge your relationships and score yourself on “belonging”. In other words, you constantly check your fit. At the most simplistic level, this means you subconsciously classify every meaningful person as an ally or a threat.

When your organisation elevates a new leader, this change shakes up your internal network of connections and it causes you to scrutinise the reputation you hold. Does your current standing help or hinder you in this mutating power play? Ultimately, how will the leadership changeover personally affect you?

Using functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI), neuroscientists have discovered that the brain is made up of interconnected regions, which work together during your emotional or feeling states. Most of your daily activities are controlled by the basal ganglia. Habitual repetitive tasks (including many work habits) become hard wired into the subconscious, requiring little attention and therefore less mental energy.

But when change is on the horizon, you're in urgent need of clarity and focus. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for insight. The prefrontal cortex is also directly linked to the amygdala (dubbed the brain’s integrative centre of emotions) which drives your fight or flight response. So, when significant or unexpected change overwhelms the prefrontal cortex, the result is in an onslaught of negative (read: threatening) feelings….anxiety, fear, depression, sadness, fatigue or even anger.

Negativity opens the door wide for people to drop the ball. Particularly in business, this can prove disastrous so leaders must pay close attention to the emotional climate of your team. Uncertainty brings discomfort and over time, doubt erodes trust. Very quickly, an unsettled climate becomes the culture of the organisation and everyone is on edge.

Fortunately, there’s a simple answer. Transformational Emotional Alignment (TEA) is a quick, safe and easy process to release negative blocks, while stimulating positive connections and relationships. Getting a handle on the emotional challenges inside your team helps resolve uncertainty, build trust and foster productive people behaviours.

Although our prime minister is stepping back from her share of challenges, more grim tests of leadership will spring up in the year ahead. Standing firm for insightful resilience, I recommend TEA for all (including politicians!) – with the caveat that it’s best served from the top down!