What’s The Brain Got To Do With Leadership

Recently I met with an executive from one of our client organizations who heads up Global Talent Management and we spoke about the topic of whole-brain thinking and balanced leadership. As you may recall, in December’s blog, "The Brain Science Behind The Integrated Leadership Model," I shared the concept of whole-brain thinking and how the physiological differences between men and women’s brains explain the considerable differences in how they operate in the workplace.

In my conversation the executive shared with me that she understands what other highly successful senior executives know – differences are at the heart of a balanced leadership approach: “Our customers are diverse, with different likes and needs. If we only had one type of executive – whether that was all men, all women or all one personality type – we would be limited, only recognizing that narrow slice of the world. We would miss all kinds of opportunities and conversations that are crucial to our success. And as a result, we would miss a critical chance for the continuous learning that will keep us at the top of our industry today and give us the competitive advantage we need to stay there in the future.”

What many business leaders don’t realize is that if we all had a deeper awareness of these differences between men and women – and how they manifest in the workplace – we would reap benefits on a number of different levels: individually, within our teams, organizationally and with our customers.

Here are just a few examples of how this knowledge can help us as individuals:

  • Career Development – By understanding our dominant traits, we will be more confident in using our strengths, more accepting of our weaknesses, and more tolerant of the differences of others. It also allows us to establish career goals and choose development activities that are in alignment with our natural traits and interests.
  • Influence, Persuasion and Communication – Understanding our own personality and thinking styles – and learning how to recognize them in others – makes us more effective in persuading others. For example, while one person might want data and facts in order to buy into an idea, another will be convinced simply by being briefed on the “big picture.” Knowing these differences enables us to tailor our influence approach accordingly.
  • Career and Work-Life Balance – Many people make career decisions based on factors such as pay, perks, or location. Yet research suggests that the most effective people succeed because they are in jobs for which they are well suited and which they enjoy. Armed with knowledge of our brain dominance, we can match career choices to our personal profile, thereby improving performance and increasing job satisfaction.

But perhaps the most significant benefits of a balanced leadership approach are enjoyed by teams and organizations:

  • Team Effectiveness – For a team to achieve its potential and perform at the highest level, it’s important that members understand their colleagues’ thinking style preferences so they can more effectively work together, complement one another, and fill any voids with the right people from outside the team.
  • Negotiations – Organizations negotiate on a regular basis. A balanced leadership approach in both the planning and execution of the negotiation process results in a logic-based orientation combined with relational energy, emotional interpretation, and active listening, all of which are critical for producing win-win agreements.
  • Organizational Change Efforts – Change is a constant in most organizations; yet many leaders continue to struggle when it comes to leading their people through the complexities of change. An integrated strategy that includes driving a plan that is balanced with empathy for people’s sense of loss and inherent frustration is essential to helping people accept, support, and successfully implement any kind of change.

Developing a balanced, integrated approach to leadership doesn’t just happen. Organizations and senior leaders must first see the inherent value of it and then be intentional about creating a corporate culture and development programs that advance a diverse group of leaders. But clearly, the results are worth the effort!

Visit www.shambaughleadership.com to learn more about SHAMBAUGH’s leadership and organizational development, employee engagement and coaching services.

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Rebecca Shambaugh

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