Tag Archives: personal development

NeuroLeadership: Making Decisions

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Making Decisions has been identified by the NeuroLeadership Institute as one of the four facets of effective and efficient leadership. Leaders must be able to make sound and timely decisions to make sure their organizations run smoothly. To move us beyond previous prescriptive, anticipatory, and behavioral approaches, neuroscience researchers have expanded our understanding of good decision making by using novel neuroimaging experiments to examine the neural substrates of the human brain.

They assert that “a fundamental requirement for promoting sustainable and resilient leadership in organizations, governments, and society is self-awareness and self-control” (Kirk 2015). And, in their studies, they have demonstrated that mindfulness training is the key to changing decision-making parameters, influencing competing decision-making networks in the brain, and avoiding flawed decision making…”

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Why NeuroLeadership?

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“When I first meet people and tell them about what I do, the most common question is “What the **** is NeuroLeadership?” It’s definitely a field of study that has not yet entered the mainstream leadership vocabulary, even if they are already acquainted with prevailing research. As defined by the NeuroLeadership Institute, NeuroLeadership is “a specific new field dedicated and committed to exploring the processes in the brain that underlie or influence human decisions behaviors, and interactions in the workplace and beyond” (Ringleb and Rock 2008). Specifically, it explores the neural basis of leadership and management practices and how they intersect with social-cognitive neuroscience, neurobiology, and the social sciences.

Now, that’s a mouth full! In layman’s terms, we’re talking about how to “improve leadership effectiveness within institutions and organizations by developing a science for leadership and leadership development that directly takes into account physiology of the mind and the brain.” More and more, organizations have noticed an increased need for the efficient and effective development of leaders and of processes for continuous improvement in leadership quality…”

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Where Neuroscience Meets Leadership

I was originally introduced to the concept of NeuroLeadership via an article that my step-sister was reading for a work conference – SCARF: A brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others (NeuroLeadership Journal, 2008). I was intrigued, since I had been researching effective leadership methods for the company I was with at the time, and so I googled around to see if there were any books or materials on the subject. I found a sole Handbook of NeuroLeadership on eBay and jumped at the opportunity.

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I started reading it casually in my spare time but soon found myself completely immersed. The idea that we could bring the rigorous study of neuroscience to the realm of leadership and actually study how the brain functions when performing in leadership capacities was fascinating to me. Previously, the leadership models were primarily based on behavioral science. They would observe what people did in leadership roles and find trends across sample populations. They would then hazard educated guesses at cause and effect, presumably trying to predict how future actions would play out. It seemed to be a somewhat reliable method dependent on predictable probabilities, but it was an imperfect system that didn’t really get to the root of HOW these leadership trends were taking place.

I’ve always been interested in how humans interact with each other and themselves, and, since I was on a quest to find real answers and solutions for the organizational problems that my company was facing, it seemed like NeuroLeadership might be THE answer.

The researchers assert that the four tenets of NeuroLeadership are: Decision Making, Collaborating with Others, Self Regulation, and Facilitating Change. After years of analysis and study, the NeuroLeadership Institute has discovered that those four factors determine whether someone will make an effective leader or not: They must be able to make sound and timely decisions, they must be able to collaborate with others as well as manage others’ inter-collaboration, they must be able to effectively regulate their own emotions and actions, and they must be able to enact organization change in an efficient and non-threatening manner.

The researchers even went as far as studying the mechanisms within the brain that are vital to such processes and are in the process of determining ways in which people can strengthen and enhance their leadership skills by training their brain. Sound theory and action, all in one? Sign me up!

After I had read through as good portion of the 600-page Handbook, I decided to further my education and take advantage of the Foundations of NeuroLeadership Certificate course that the Institute offered online. The course confirmed my recent realization that, in the realm of business development, businesses can only develop as far as the individual people running the business were willing to develop themselves. They could try and enact external changes to the business – trying different processes, organizations, or procedures – but the changes would be slightly effective at best and downright destructive at worst.

This concept of personal development fascinated me since I had been on my own personal development journey for a while already and, to be honest, trying to excel in the world of small business development by trying to get unwilling colleagues to enact new changes to the way they did things was a frustrating endeavor. I was already reading all kinds of personal development books in my spare time so I started looking into how to make personal development into my career.

I had considered life coaching briefly when I had first shut down my store two years earlier, and here I was at a crossroads once again (probably more like a brick wall). But, now, I had the resources to do a certification so I did some soul-searching and mind-mapping. I realized that I had the perfect combination of experience, interest, and opportunity to finally launch into the career of a coach.

Now, as I move into expanding my coaching business, I am creating services for Wellness Coaching as well as NeuroLeadership Coaching because I want to create a coaching practice that incorporates neuroscience to maximize the potential benefits for the client. As always, I will try to keep you guys updated as I progress. Stay tuned!

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