December 23, 2016

The Neuroscience Behind Effective Leadership

Written by Shina Neo

Neuroscience Effective Leadership.jpeg

Why we do the things we do is a question that can be constantly analyzed. Effective leaders are visionaries who have the ability to influence and inspire others to achieve a common goal. How our brain works, how we make choices, and how we act on those decisions is part of the neuroscience behind effective leadership.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, “great leaders are those whose behavior powerfully leverages the system of brain interconnectedness.”

Neuroleadership Transforming Leadership Development

Neuroleadership, a term coined by David Rock, founder and CEO of the NeuroLeadership Group, offers educational programs based on discoveries in neuroscience to transform leadership development. According to Rock in an Inc. Magazine article, research over the past decade reveals a “complete language in what leaders do and what leadership is, linked back to biology.”

Research reveals how our brain recognizes biases in the way we make decisions. By taking a neuroleadership approach to how we lead and manage others, organizations can develop leaders that are more agile and adaptive in their decisions.

“Science is a powerful engine behind the transformation taking place in our corporate organizations,” said Dr. Anna Tavis, founding partner of, in a Huffington Post article. “Whenever organizations consider a change they now can refer to the scientific drivers to rationalize their decisions.”

A whitepaper, “The Neuroscience of Leadership: Practical Applications” by Kimberly Schaufenbeul, program director at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, discusses how organizations design and deliver best practices to promote effective leadership, management, coaching and employee engagement. Successful organizations are starting to recognize how the way our brain works affects our leadership capabilities. More specifically, the connection between our brain and mind shows the integration of how the way we think affects behavior change.

The Three-Step Process

“The active ingredient to large-scale behavior change is facilitating insight in social situations over time,” said Dr. Rock. Research reviews the importance of a three-step process, he further explains.

1. Seeing something different in a social setting

2. Having insight about that behavior

3. Making these types of connections over time. 

Developing effective leaders involves having insight into social settings and how specific actions affects behavior change. By taking the time to understand how our brain affects our actions and biases, organizations will be better equipped to develop able-minded leaders that connect with, influence and inspire their team to achieve business objectives.

The next blog will discuss the neuroscience of social media and how it affects our need to connect with others.

Shina Neo

Shina Neo is the content marketing manager at Content Raven where she is responsible for the publication of all blog posts, white papers, eBooks, infographics and social media campaigns. Previously, Shina worked as a news reporter and has written for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. She holds a Masters of Science in Journalism from Boston University.

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