Archives for January 2012

Welcome to the Brain-Friendly Leader

Understanding and befriending your biology is life changing.  I’ve been applying neuroscience research to leadership and organizational culture for over a decade and have seen first hand the difference comprehending the underlying drivers of behavior and experience can make for executives, their teams, and their organizations.  This blog is a place where I will share observations about how biology informs work in the 21st Century.  It is intended as a platform for information, exploration and occasionally for dispelling the misinformation about the brain that has become rampant as this conversation gains popularity.

Anything related to the brain or rockets seems to be our cultural gold standard for intellectual prowess.  In the late 1990’s, when I first started bringing neuroscience into my work in organizations, it was a hard sell for many clients. The idea of using neuroscience as the basis of leadership development seemed impractical, overly theoretical and frankly, intimidating.

Fast forward to today.  Neuroscience frequently makes the cover of mainstream publications like Newsweek and Time Magazine, which just last week featured brain research on optimism.   The field of neuroscience is exploding due in part to the widespread availability of advanced scanning technologies.  Burgeoning areas of inquiry have given rise to new academic specialties, such as Social and Affective Neuroscience, which studies emotion and the brain in interaction with others.

Nascent findings carry implications that in many cases upend our cultural assumptions about what it means to be human, and what, at our core, makes us tick. Are we fundamentally self-interested, as classical economic theory would suggest?  Or are we, at a neurological level, also built for altruism? Is reason the height of human function?  Or do emotions have an equally elegant logic and essential wisdom?  Do we have hidden programming which guides our behavior, leading us to sometimes unwittingly do things we consciously abhor?  And if so, and it’s hidden, what can we do about it?  Are some people wired to take more risk than others?  What, then, are the implications for how we choose our leaders?

The questions are endless and the emergent information has far reaching implications for all aspects of modern life.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts and adding to the growing conversation!