If you are a leader in a relatively forward-thinking organisation, you have probably already had training that incorporated some of the findings from neuroscience.
In the past decade or so, there has been an increase in the amount of neuroscientific studies and also in application of their findings to a wide variety of areas, including organisational development.
Better understanding of the workings of the human brain, and how it translates to behaviour, has been a common preoccupation not only in the labs, but in the boardrooms around the world too.
Despite the existence of a great deal of neuroscience “quackery”, its application in business has led to many positive results for business leaders and their organisations. Below are three of the main areas to see advances.
It has improved leadership
Approaches to leadership badly needed new input; over the past decade, we have seen organisations with record-low levels of employee engagement and high staff turnover, pointing to something of a crisis in the workplace.
Neuroscience has been combined with philosophy and traditional management approaches to bring a new ‘angle’ to leadership. When the key findings from the studies of human behaviour and decision-making are used to underpin leadership, we are better able to produce leaders who understand the make-up of their teams, more in tune with the demands of their people, and better able to inspire enhanced performance.
It has helped drive change
Better leadership is the key to driving the desired change, improving performance and productivity, and reducing the feelings of disengagement that can be so detrimental to the progress of an organisation.
We have seen some of the most successful companies like Google make moves that have changed the entire nature of the workplace in the past decade – such as providing employees with creative time, and more flexible work hours. One suspects that neuroscience had something to do with this.
Change imposed from the outside is often fiercely resisted by those on the inside – unless they can see the personal or professional benefits of the change. look here has helped to show that people value recognition and inclusion very highly – and so building a more inclusive culture is one of the keys to creating an organisation where more cohesive change is possible.
It has improved attitudes to learning
One of the roles of leadership is to develop the people in the organisation. The simple discovery from neuroscience that the brain has the ability to change and adapt its neural patterns means that, no matter what your age, you don’t have to settle for what you’ve got. The ‘plastic’ nature of the brain means that we can learn new skills and form new habits at any stage of life; the brain is able to adapt to new experiences and new information, and learning actually changes the physical structure of the brain. It was demonstrated by a neuroscientist a few years ago that a section of the brains of London taxi drivers enlarged over the years as they memorized 25,000 city streets, so we can infer that anybody’s brain can be improved by learning.
The problem for organisations is the difficulty in finding training companies with the necessary expertise in neuroscience, psychology, and management theory to be able to create effective frameworks; and then to be able to coach it at an executive level.