Can Neuroscience Make You a Better Leader?


Neuroscience Studies Identify Leadership QualitiesOver the past few decades, advancements in neuroscience have been used to hone in on the functioning of perfectly healthy individuals. A field of study typically used in brain trauma and disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Neuroscience studies are now being used to identify individual leadership qualities.

Information systems professor Pierre Balthazard from W. P. Carey School of Business, explains that during research, “We are looking at the positive psychology aspect of neuroscience. This is similar to what the clinicians and therapists have been doing but in a different direction. We take the God-given talent of an individual, and we tweak it or optimize it for certain functions.”

The field of cognitive neuroscience, an area of study that aims to understand social, neural and cognitive human interactions, has grown widely over the past decade. Both fields of organizational neuroscience and leadership neuroscience are interdisciplinary fields that involve psychology, information systems, and management science and are areas that are gaining worldwide academic acceptance.

These new areas of study are providing a useful supplement, not a replacement, to a more traditional methods of leadership development approaches. Results from this type of research are being used to develop better leaders by honing in on specialized skills and improving on other areas where leaders are weak. Balthazard says, “To me, these are weaknesses that are not necessarily abnormal or clinical but are leadership characteristics that could be improved upon. If individuals can improve these areas, then their leadership would certainly improve, and I would venture a guess that the organization as a whole would benefit.”

While some view this method of neuroscience as being new and unorthodox, the fact is the practice of psychometric testing has been around for many years. One of the most commonly known (and accepted) versions of psychometric testing are personality tests. The same form of personality testing that is used by corporations, grade schools and universities, employers, day camps, travel companies and even online dating sites.

While every organization that uses personality tests does so in order to connect or correctly match people to a school, a team, a job position, a company, or a life partner, neuroscience leadership can also be used as a way to improve leadership abilities and in turn, connect or match people with their strong points.

When combined with what we already know about personalities, Balthazard explains, “What we do is just a more efficient and effective way of doing what the brain does naturally. When you read a textbook, you are creating new neural pathways. What we’re doing does not change the person. We are making the brain more in tune with what it needs to be in order to learn a new thing more efficiently.”



Author: Divya Parekh (PCC, CPC, LL, MS) is an international business relationship and leadership coach,  speaker and author, and CEO of The DP Group. She assists executives, professionals, coaches and students plan, develop and achieve their personal, professional and financial goals. She has been recognized by Worldwide Who’s Who as ‘VIP of the Year’ for showing dedication, leadership, and excellence in leadership coaching. NAPW has also recognized her as a ‘VIP Woman of the 2014 Year’ for outstanding leadership and commitment in coaching. She is the founder of the 1/1/1 Leader Project. The project prides itself on being simple. Set a goal. Work towards achieving it. Give someone a smile. Be kind to another person. Make the world a little bit nicer. It’s free so get started today!

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