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The Neuroscience of Leadership

Picture of working people working at Moller Institute

It can sometimes be hard to persuade your leaders that they should go on a training course. What can a course possibly teach them, that their vast experience of day to day business hasn’t already?

And quite rightly.

Because there is nothing like real life experience. It has made your leaders and managers into the strategic thinkers they are today. It has equipped them with the confidence to persuade and guide others. It has given them the vision of what the future might hold. You certainly can’t learn all that in a 60 minute lunch and learn session, or by reading one of the many “how to lead”style books.

So if you can’t beat it, join it.


By being 100% sure that your leaders really are making the most of all that experience that’s stored away in the neural circuitry of their brains.

Take regret for instance. However good your leaders are, I’m sure there are some things that they’ve regretted over the years. A poor decision that cost them a big win perhaps. A conversation with a colleague that soured a relationship. But when you look at how regret works in the brain, then you can see that there are multiple ways of dealing with these feelings  – your leaders can try and bury them. They can cause your leaders to err on the side of caution and stick with the status quo. Or they can be a driver of strategic change. Which neural pathway do your leaders take?

Or focus. It’s something that seems so obvious. Your attention is a bit like a spotlight right? Wrong. It’s more like a strobe light – dipping in and out so you don’t miss what’s important. And that strobe light creates a priority map in your brain. Understanding this process of priority mapping means that their focus can be optimized. Less energy spent. Greater performance achieved. Are you leaders really optimizing and conserving on the basics of their mental processing so that their energy can be spent more fruitfully elsewhere?

Neuroscience for Leaders

Your leader might think that knowing how the brain works is the domain of neuroscientists. And while that’s the case for THE brain, it’s a different story when it comes to THEIR brain. Then they should really sit up and be interested. Because when it comes to improving their performance, there isn’t really anywhere else to look. It all comes down to making their brain work better.

Neuroscience gives your leaders the keys to understanding their brain. It can help them create winning environments that not only raise their own performance, but also the performance of their teams. Neuroscience tells your leaders what their people’s brains need to perform well at work. It shines a mirror at the risk areas in their thinking that they should be aware of. It shows them how the brain copes with change and how to mitigate the psychological fall out from changing circumstances.

In other words it makes good business sense to equip your leaders and managers with relevant neuroscience know-how.

Fact not Fluff.

But there is no denying that neuroscience claims around leadership can be clouded in overhype.

Neurowashing so to speak.

But when you truly look at what the science is saying then it’s rich with meaningful insights. Insights that can be readily applied to the workplace to provide your leaders and managers with an assortment of “ah ha!” moments when reality clicks.

Like when they learn about the wide array of biases that can impair their decision-making and suddenly they realise why they acted in a particular way, when it really wasn’t in their best interests to do so. Or when they realise that the place they consider their “thinking place” really isn’t optimised for achieving brain states that facilitate flow and creativity and they really should make a change.

That’s the kind of leadership neuroscience that we are talking about. The kind that circumvents all the fluff and gets straight to what makes a difference to a leader in action.