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Applying Neuroscience to Leadership Are you a brain-fried or a brain-savvy leader? By Jan Hills How has your week been? Many of the leaders we ask say they have had a week where they are tired, forgetful, usually caused by the stress of having too many things on their mind, short tempered and not really enjoying what they are doing. Sound like you? You are not along. We call this being brain-fried. It kind of describes how your brain feels most of the time. But there is another way. Some leaders are discovering how to be brain-savvy. These leaders get much better results from their team, are personally effective and say they enjoy what they do. That’s because they understand how the brain works and use this knowledge to be better leaders. The findings of neuroscience, the science of how the brain works, suggest some helpful insights for leaders. By following these leaders get much better results. Some of the characteristics of brain-savvy leaders are that they • Ask questions a lot. Not just about what people are doing, Interactive but how they’re feeling, because the brain notices threat much more than the good stuff, the rewards. When the brain is threatened, even at an unconscious level it pretty much shuts down the executive functioning. That’s the part that plans, reasons, is innovative and sets goals. Basically the part you need to be using to solve business issues. So brain-savvy leaders can flex their leadership to replace feelings of threat with feelings of reward Video • Make important and creative decisions early in the day rather than spending the most productive time for the brain doing email and routine tasks. That’s because they understand how they can make their day as ‘brain efficient’ as possible • Keep calm when others lose it. By understanding how the brain works they know why they are reacting strongly, stop the reaction and choose to act differently • Deal with change in a way that helps the team embrace it. Brain-savvy leaders know that change creates feelings of threat more than anything else. So unlike leaders who tell their team to change, brain-savvy leaders show their team why change is good for them personally. Then help them set personal goals to achieve change. And reward them for their success So how do you stack up? If the answer is not that well, don’t worry. The good news is you can learn to be brain-savvy by following some of the behaviors listed above Jan Hills set up Head Heart + Brain to change the way leadership and capability development is designed and delivered. With a qualification in NeuroLeadership, she’s the driving force behind the brain-savvy approach. Jan also created the Success Profile methodology for talent strategy, created the MasterMind approach to leadership development and BrainBox HR online development tool as well as leading the company’s Success Profile research into HR Business Partners and HR Leaders. Email janhills@hhab.co.uk 39 leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014


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