How Neuroscience Can Make You a Better Leader

Encouraging employees to be more engaged at work may come down to more of a science than an art.

Studies suggest that feelings of exclusion in the workplace can actually trigger neurological reactions in the brain that trigger physical symptoms, which inevitably have a negative effect on the level of positivity and engagement at work.

It’s called ‘neuroleadership,’ and it’s playing an increasingly prominent role in how business leaders manage their staff. This field of study places a focus on including neuroscience in the field of leadership development, change management, training, and coaching.

Essentially, neuroleadership uses the scientific study of the brain to establish leadership theories in the workplace. Recent discoveries about the brain’s function have resulted in a broadened understanding of how behavior is affected. Neuroleadership is an exciting concept that can effectively induce positive performance and inhibit negative feelings of exclusion in the workplace.

But how exactly is neuroscience applied to real-life situations at work? Can neuroleadership have a positive impact on employee management and business leadership?

The brain operates with a certain amount of energy on a regular basis. When the amygdala – the brain’s threat radar – is activated to react to a perceived threat, it uses productive energy. As such, this stolen energy can’t be used to stimulate other core brain functions, such as productivity and problem solving.

The inclusion of neuroscience at work provides leaders with the ability to identify when the amygdala has been activated in employees, and thus minimize its reaction as early as possible to diffuse any negative reactions that would otherwise follow. Neuroleadership provides management with the know-how to create a work environment that is void of circumstances that would prevent amygdala activations completely, thereby improving the team’s productivity levels.

Neuroleadership truly is an innovative means of developing solutions to enhance engagement and performance of employees, either by depressing negative brain activation or preventing it altogether. Using science as a back-up and support to employee management, leaders can not only boost performance but also effectively promote enhanced learning and manage diversity.

Now, leaders can base their decisions on solid scientific fact. Plenty of big corporations across the country have sat up and taken notice. Businesses such as American Express, Ericsson, and Cigna have already engaged in neuroleadership training to implement this science into their workplaces.

Currently, neuroleadership covers a variety of facets on business leadership, including:

    • Problem solving
    • Decision makin
    • Self-direction
    • Collaboration and communication
    • Social interplay
    • Organizational behavior

The advent of neuroscience gives leaders the opportunity to be optimally positioned within the organization to understand exactly what they are working with, and apply tactics to ensure ideal behavior. Not only that, but strategies can be put in place for the organization as a whole to drive optimal results through a keen understanding of what prompts specific human responses.

At the end of the day, neuroleadership can help leaders become much more effective. While traditional means of leading teams may have centered on more subjective approaches to dealing with negative behaviors in the workplace – which often are unsuccessful – the solid science behind neuroleadership gives management the chance to better understand exactly what the issues are and how to work through them.

As neuroleadership gains momentum, organizations can increasingly boost levels of engagement and productivity, thereby generating a more fruitful workforce.