Applying Brain Science to Leadership

Part of the The Leadership Brain For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When you lead with the brain in mind, you address the structures of the brain and its needs. One way that scientists commonly consider the brain is as structure that includes three separate “brains” that have their own specialized jobs. Understanding how these structures work and what they need enables you to better relate to and lead your employees — and better understand your own reactions, to boot! Here are a few tips for working with the brain’s structure:

  • The “survival brain” wants safety and security. In a nutshell, its job is to keep you alive, and so it’s always on the lookout for changes in the environment that might put you in jeopardy.

    You address this brain’s needs by providing a predictable and stable workplace. Provide predictability through the use of agendas, schedules, newsletters, and procedures.

  • The “emotional brain” that deals not just with emotion but memory. You help keep this part of the brain humming by being socially aware (note your feelings but don’t let them rule you), and you put it to work for you by giving employees an emotional connection to training.

    Any information that’s connected to an emotion has a better chance of becoming a long-term memory. Remember that emotions are contagious; whatever you’re feeling will spread to your employees and your customers. Be positive and optimistic!

  • The “thinking brain” handles the brain’s executive functions: decision-making, future planning, judgment, and emotional control. The brain learns through feedback.

  • Change your employees’ minds by providing immediate, constructive feedback. And maintain your integrity so that you give your employees and clients someone to believe in.

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