Leading With Your Brain... Literally

We continue to learn more about how various brain regions play critical roles in positive social functioning, and implications of this research extend to leadership development and coaching.

Executive coaching is commonly used to enhance employee productivity, engagement and wellness. However, despite various perspectives on how coaching and leadership development can be most successful, only recently has the focus shifted to the brain. 

An emerging field, Neuroleadership, serves to capitalize on social cognitive and affective neuroscience research to maximize brain and interpersonal functioning in the workplace. This field was created in 2006 by management consultant David Rock and colleagues, followed by the first Neuroleadership conference in 2007. It continues to grow rapidly, and now has its own journal, an annual conference and followers in business consulting, neuroscience and academia. As an executive coach who is also a clinical neuropsychologist, I can appreciate this novel approach to translating neuroscience research into corporate settings...

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Brain-Based Leadership

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In Becoming a Manager, Harvard Business School professor Linda Hill writes that a manager’s role—and by extension, any leadership position—is characterized by overload, ambiguity, and conflict.  Successfully navigating such challenges requires distinct sets of cognitive, emotional and behavioral skills enabled by regulatory mechanisms that are housed in specific regions of the brain.  Understanding the processes by which these skills develop, are utilized, and are sometimes inhibited, can enable leaders to gain mastery over their roles and responsibilities…The following are four mindsets that characterize “managing with the brain in mind”…

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Promoting Psychosocial and Cognitive Wellness in the Workplace: The Emerging Neuroscience of Leadership Development

While traditional management science has been criticized for being slow to adopt findings from psychological research, an emerging movement seeks to incorporate cognitive and neuroscience research and perspectives into workplace applications and leadership development.  In the present chapter, social, cognitive, and affective neuroscience findings are discussed in the context of topics related to leadership development.  These topics include workplace stress and stress management, emotional regulation, social interaction, and emotional intelligence.  I then review efforts to understand and promote cognitive health in the workplace with a particular focus on organizational skills, decision making, and reasoning.  These topics are subsequently considered in the context of executive coaching interventions and future directions that may bolster research and applications in this area.  

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Can Organizations Be Emotionally Intelligent?

In general, it appears that an organization’s efforts to improve communication and work relationships impact both overall work satisfaction as well as the bottom line.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to how we monitor our own emotions, perceive and empathize with others’ emotions and perspectives, and use this information to guide thought and action. In the corporate world, EI is increasingly believed to be responsible for success in dynamic environments, and is an important target for leadership development and coaching (Goleman & Boyatzis, 2008). There is also evidence that EI matters more than IQ in overall job performance (O’Boyle et al., 2010). While EI is often considered in the context of an individual, recently the focus has shifted to considering organization-wide efforts that reflect a mindful and empowering approach to promoting employee and team well-being...

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Reward and Recognition At Work: What’s The Brain Got To Do With It?

Traditional models of reward and recognition are now being retooled to emphasize social, intrinsic and other non-financial incentives... These efforts have significant potential to improve employee well-being and promote a flourishing organizational culture.

Strategies used to reward and recognize employees’ efforts have become more sophisticated over the years. However, only recently have employers begun to move beyond traditional (usually financial) incentives and consider ways to make work truly rewarding. In addition, state-of-the-art social and affective neuroscience—using techniques such as fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging—has illuminated how the brain responds to various types of rewards. 

By extension, this research can provide insights into how managers can motivate and reward employees more effectively. Indeed, prominent business leaders are beginning to make references to the brain to clarify motivational techniques (Kleiner, 2011)...

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