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Rewire your brain

Neuroleadership applies the ndings of neuroscience to the art of leadership.


TEXT: AMANDA THURMAN, ILLUSTRATION: SANTTU MUSTONEN

magazine 1/2012magazine 2/2011

A growing body of research indicates that understanding what is happening in our brains can actually improve our leadership skills.

Neuroleadership a term coined by Australian author and leadership consultant Dr. David Rock and Je rey Schwartz, research psychiatrist at UCLA applies the ndings of leadership to the art of leadership.

Courses on neuroleadership are already being


taught in leading universities and business schools. Also, companies such as Cargill, an international producer and marketer of agricultural products, and AIG, an American multinational insurance corporation, are putting it into practice in their management training.

The real link between neuroscience and leadership is attention.

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to

Je rey Schwartz, research psychiatrist at UCLA

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to

The real link between neuroscience and leadership is attention. Focusing the mind on identifying and creating new leadership behavior, rather than continuing with the same old habits, can actually create chemical and physical changes in your brain.

Je rey Schwartz, research psychiatrist at UCLA

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to

The real link between neuroscience and leadership is attention. Focusing the mind on identifying and creating new leadership behavior, rather than continuing with the same old habits, can actually create chemical and physical changes in your brain. The more time you spend on a specic activity, the stronger the neural pathways responsible for executing that activity become. Taxi drivers, for example, have a much larger posterior hippocampus than average, as this is the part of the brain devoted to the spatial representation of surroundings.

Je rey Schwartz, research psychiatrist at UCLA

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to

Je rey Schwartz, research psychiatrist at UCLA

The real link between neuroscience and leadership is attention. Focusing the mind on identifying and creating new leadership behavior, rather than continuing with the same old habits, can actually create chemical and physical changes in your brain. The more time you spend on a specic activity, the stronger the neural pathways responsible for executing that activity become. Taxi drivers, for example, have a much larger posterior hippocampus than average, as this is the part of the brain devoted to the spatial representation of surroundings. When you are not used to an activity, it is very energy-intensive to carry it out. Any new task will use your brains working memory the prefrontal cortex to process the new information and compare it to information already stored. Once you have mastered the activity, the process is dealt with in the basal ganglia, where you do not really need to consciously think about it and you nd it less tiring to handle.

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to

A lot of what leaders do in their day-to-day work lives is governed by the basal ganglia they have the experience to make leadership routine. The downside of this is that changing their activities leads to discomfort and mental exhaustion, because it requires the use of the prefrontal cortex again.

Je rey Schwartz, research psychiatrist at UCLA

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to

A lot of what leaders do in their day-to-day work lives is governed by the basal ganglia they have the experience to make leadership routine. The downside of this is that changing their activities leads to discomfort and mental exhaustion, because it requires the use of the prefrontal cortex again. The result? An avoidance of change, even if it is for the better.

Je rey Schwartz, research psychiatrist at UCLA

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to

A lot of what leaders do in their day-to-day work lives is governed by the basal ganglia they have the experience to make leadership routine. The downside of this is that changing their activities leads to discomfort and mental exhaustion, because it requires the use of the prefrontal cortex again. The result? An avoidance of change, even if it is for the better. When bad management techniques and cognitive errors become habits, they become wired into the brains of leaders and into the organizational structure of how decisions are made.

Je rey Schwartz, research psychiatrist at UCLA

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to

A lot of what leaders do in their day-to-day work lives is governed by the basal ganglia they have the experience to make leadership routine. The downside of this is that changing their activities leads to discomfort and mental exhaustion, because it requires the use of the prefrontal cortex again. The result? An avoidance of change, even if it is for the better. When bad management techniques and cognitive errors become habits, they become wired into the brains of leaders and into the organizational structure of how decisions are made. To help with this, practice mindful awareness and pay attention to attention.

Je rey Schwartz, research psychiatrist at UCLA

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to principal investigator of The Neuroscience of Leadership Project at Arizona State University

Brains scans, such as EEG and fMRIs machines, can be used to study executives brains to nd patterns to use to develop training.

Pierre Balthazard, associate professor and the

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to principal investigator of The Neuroscience of Leadership Project at Arizona State University

Brains scans, such as EEG and fMRIs machines, can be used to study executives brains to nd patterns to use to develop training. This data can then be analyzed and translated into leadership development protocols.

Pierre Balthazard, associate professor and the

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to principal investigator of The Neuroscience of Leadership Project at Arizona State University

Brains scans, such as EEG and fMRIs machines, can be used to study executives brains to nd patterns to use to develop training. This data can then be analyzed and translated into leadership development protocols. Data from the brain scans can be correlated with, for example, the results of a leadership questionnaire given to the subordinates of those scanned. The most outstanding leaders have a visionary impact on both their workers and their organizations, and it is these leaders that the study wants to nd ways to emulate.

Pierre Balthazard, associate professor and the

Rewire your brain

University

Brains scans, such as EEG and fMRIs machines, can be used to study executives brains to nd patterns to use to develop training. This data can then be analyzed and translated into leadership development protocols. Data from the brain scans can be correlated with, for example, the results of a leadership questionnaire given to the subordinates of those scanned. The most outstanding leaders have a visionary impact on both their workers and their organizations, and it is these leaders that the study wants to nd ways to emulate. There is a neural signature of leadership a pattern of neural activity which means that a norm can Neuroleadership according to be derived. Once there is enough data to see what a Pierre Balthazard, normal leadership pattern is, neurotherapies not associate professor and the principal investigator of The unlike clinical therapies for attention decit disorder Neuroscience of Leadership or stress can be developed. Project at Arizona State

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to principal investigator of The Neuroscience of Leadership Project at Arizona State University

The ultimate goal is to assess leadership potential using neuroscience technology and then use neurofeedback to develop the neurological connections associated with e ective leadership behaviors.

Pierre Balthazard, associate professor and the

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to principal investigator of The Neuroscience of Leadership Project at Arizona State University

The ultimate goal is to assess leadership potential using neuroscience technology and then use neurofeedback to develop the neurological connections associated with e ective leadership behaviors. Biologically speaking, leaders brains are not that di erent from those of normal workers. Leaders are no smarter than average people. What they do have are neural pathway patterns that provide them with capacities to deal with people and problems with empathy and ease and that can be developed and improved.

Pierre Balthazard, associate professor and the

Rewire your brain

principal investigator of The Neuroscience of Leadership Project at Arizona State University

The ultimate goal is to assess leadership potential using neuroscience technology and then use neurofeedback to develop the neurological connections associated with e ective leadership behaviors. Biologically speaking, leaders brains are not that di erent from those of normal workers. Leaders are no smarter than average people. What they do have are neural pathway patterns that provide them with capacities to deal with people and problems with empathy and ease and that can be developed and improved. Valid neural approaches to develop leadership will Neuroleadership according to become commercially viable products in the not too Pierre Balthazard, distant future. associate professor and the

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to at the University of Helsinkis Institute of Behavioral Sciences and leader of the Do you mind if I read your mind (DYMIRYM) project, which aims to use neuroscience to help enhance leadership training and development

The main goal of the DYMIRYM project is to provide leaders with information about themselves that they would not be able to acquire any other way. This information will then be used for potential development.

Christina Krause, professor of cognitive science

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to at the University of Helsinkis Institute of Behavioral Sciences and leader of the Do you mind if I read your mind (DYMIRYM) project, which aims to use neuroscience to help enhance leadership training and development

The main goal of the DYMIRYM project is to provide leaders with information about themselves that they would not be able to acquire any other way. This information will then be used for potential development. The project will look at how the crucial aspects of leadership can be observed in human brains both in how the brain activates in response to leadership thoughts and actions and how the actual brain structure may di er.

Christina Krause, professor of cognitive science

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to at the University of Helsinkis Institute of Behavioral Sciences and leader of the Do you mind if I read your mind (DYMIRYM) project, which aims to use neuroscience to help enhance leadership training and development

Christina Krause, professor of cognitive science

The main goal of the DYMIRYM project is to provide leaders with information about themselves that they would not be able to acquire any other way. This information will then be used for potential development. The project will look at how the crucial aspects of leadership can be observed in human brains both in how the brain activates in response to leadership thoughts and actions and how the actual brain structure may di er. The neuroscience project will help leaders by showing how their brains react to situations typically encountered in leadership roles.

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to at the University of Helsinkis Institute of Behavioral Sciences and leader of the Do you mind if I read your mind (DYMIRYM) project, which aims to use neuroscience to help enhance leadership training and development

Christina Krause, professor of cognitive science

The main goal of the DYMIRYM project is to provide leaders with information about themselves that they would not be able to acquire any other way. This information will then be used for potential development. The project will look at how the crucial aspects of leadership can be observed in human brains both in how the brain activates in response to leadership thoughts and actions and how the actual brain structure may di er. The neuroscience project will help leaders by showing how their brains react to situations typically encountered in leadership roles. The ndings from the DYMIRYM project will give leaders insights into their level of pressure tolerance will they crack, overreact or behave normally in high-stress situations using psycho-physiological and behavioral techniques.

Neuroscience is becoming an important innovator in business education.

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to Lab at the Aalto University Executive Education, which is partially funding the DYMIRYM project

Leena Huotari, director of the Aalto Leadership

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to Lab at the Aalto University Executive Education, which is partially funding the DYMIRYM project

Neuroscience is becoming an important innovator in business education. Neuroscience will provide more facts to explain human behavior which still is seen as a soft, unreasoned, even irrational area of business.

Leena Huotari, director of the Aalto Leadership

Rewire your brain


Neuroleadership according to Lab at the Aalto University Executive Education, which is partially funding the DYMIRYM project

Neuroscience is becoming an important innovator in business education. Neuroscience will provide more facts to explain human behavior which still is seen as a soft, unreasoned, even irrational area of business. It will give information that will help us to become more conscious of our reactions and behavior and help us to change them to more fruitful ones.

Leena Huotari, director of the Aalto Leadership

Rewire your brain

So, it seems that if we want to be better the future of neuroscience is something we should all be paying attention to.

leaders of more e cient organizations,

magazine 1/2012

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