Thursday, July 30, 2015

What Neuroscience Tells Leaders to Pay Attention to

Guest post from Amy Brann:

The best leaders wear many hats including a Coaching one at times. A leader can help
people to grow and develop. Neuroscience may say the leader, in their Coaching role, helps facilitate self-directed neuroplasticity. We’ll explore what this means shortly. There are some similarities between a leader’s overall role and a leader in a Coaching role. There is strength in a leader being able to step into many roles while retaining their overall title of a leader.
What does neuroscience add to leaders and Coaches? Neuroscience offers us another lens through which to view things. Most of the time it doesn’t replace psychological insights or observations of people’s behaviour. It adds another perspective. With this addition we can gain further clarity.
Don’t force people, invite them
I believe, and suggest that neuroscience research supports this proposition, that the nature of a great leader is that it inspires following. It doesn’t grab a person by the scruff of the neck and drag them along. It is inviting, enticing, even alluring. Coaches don’t direct people. They facilitate self-direction. The coachee or the follower chooses what they want and where they want to go.
Connect people
People need connection. Social isolation is painful and bad for our physical and mental health. One of the roles of the leader and the Coach is to be aware of this and make it easier for people to connect to others. Different people obviously need different styles and amounts of ‘people time’ but what we’re talking about here is making it easy for people to feel included and connected.
Play fair
Most people when asked would agree that fairness is a desirable trait for a leader.
Most people wouldn’t know that the anterior cingulate cortex, the ACC is involved when we feel we are being treated unfairly. In a lab people have responded powerfully when they think something is unfair, even rejecting money – which in the workplace could speak volumes. People are likely to be less productive if they think unfairness is present.
Trust and be trustworthy
Creating opportunities for people to release oxytocin by trusting and being trustworthy could strengthen the bonds within your organization. Lots of leaders say trust and honesty are important but there are often gaps or subtle signals that raise alarm bells for individuals. Congruency is important.
Make change as easy as possible
It is possible for people to change we see it frequently. People learn new things, this involves at some level, changes in the brain. A range of experiments shows structural changes occurring in the brain – a process we call neuroplasticity – the plastic nature of the brain. We started by suggesting that there are similarities between a Coach facilitating self-directed neuroplasticity and the work of a leader. What do you think? Is part of a leader’s role to make growth and development as easy as possible? If so then understanding how the brain, which drives everything, really works can be very useful indeed.

Amy Brann studied medicine at University College London. Through her business, Synaptic Potential, she works with many companies to help them better understand their teams, clients and organizations as a whole. Brann is the author of Neuroscience for Coaches: How to Use the Latest Insights for the Benefit of Your Clients (2014, Kogan Page), and she is the creator of the online community, "Neuroscience in Business" and has been the Lead Coach for Europe for one of the largest NLP Training Companies in the world."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks Amy. Great article. Here's a related post about syncing and neuroscience.