Leadership and Neuroscience (2)

Leadership and Neuroscience (2)

The Basis of Leadership is Born in the Brain

The New Way to Lead

The brain is a social organ. That means that we are all born to connect. We cannot expect the best results if we only see people as impersonal machines and employment as simply a place full of isolated tasks. Team leaders and department managers who understand leadership and neuroscience, know the importance of:

  • How the physical environment impacts people productivity;
  • Who we spend time with at work and the strength of relationships;
  • The interplay between thoughts and emotions and;
  • How different types of tasks impact the brain and productivity.

Effective leadership requires understanding emotions, using empathy, and building relationships. This type of social leadership can create higher confidence, improved relationships between employees, and increased productivity.

Resonant Leadership

A recent study done at Case Western Reserve, a US University, found a relationship between resonance and effective leadership. Being resonant means that a leader is empathetic and has a high emotional intelligence level. A dissonant style, on the other hand, is more authoritarian and objective. Using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans, researchers asked managers to think about experiences when a leader was resonant or dissonant. A total of 14 regions of the managers’ brain responded when thinking of resonant leaders, while only 6 regions responded when thinking of dissonant leaders. In fact, up to 11 regions were deactivated when thinking of dissonant leaders. This shows that resonant leaders activate attention, social awareness, and positive relationships in their employees, while dissonant leaders trigger negative emotions, disregard, limited attention, and decreased social awareness.

Resonant leadership styles also help build trust through the release of oxytocin in their brains and the brains of others.


The Pathways to Leadership

When investigating the complex processes involved with leadership, many researchers study coherence. Coherence measures the coordinated activity of different areas of the brain in order to determine where there are connections.

About us overview team illustrationStudies have focused on the frontal cortex due to its role in emotional regulation and functioning, like goal directed behaviour. More specifically, the right frontal area of the brain is important to interpersonal communication and relationships. Coherence in this part of the brain is essential for social skills, emotional control, and self-awareness. These skills are the basis of being a resonant leader.

One study in particular focused on vision statements, an aspect of leadership based on social emotional functioning in the right frontal area of the brain. During a qEEG (quantitative electroencephalogram) assessment, which uses sensors to capture electrical activity in the brain, executives answered questions about their plans for the company and the future. They were also asked to create a vision statement.

Coders analysed the statements and scored them based on how much they focused on the self or on the team. They found that leaders who used more social language (we and us) in their vision statements were more likely to have higher coherence in the right frontal part of the brain than leaders with more self-language (I and me).


Part 2 in a new series about The Role of Neuroscience in Business.



Engage & Prosper Logo

Engage & Prosper have recently launched their Employee Mood Monitor, an effective tool designed for organisations to help gauge their employee’s mood and mental health proactively, and ultimately, provide helpful resources for those that may need help or further support.


All organisations have a duty of care to the people that work for them, and the Mood Monitor is designed to help you engage with your staff, finding those that most need help or advice.

To find out more about this innovative new tool, visit our website here.



Like what you’ve read? Sign up to our employee engagement newsletter to hear more, fresh from the blog.

Engage & Prosper is a UK based privately owned Employee Engagement Consultancy and Social Enterprise, on a mission to help organisations develop a highly productive and fulfilling workplace culture, with their people, through enhanced employee engagement strategies, fabulous and effective internal communications platforms and tailored reward and recognition programmes.

For more information on Engage & Prosper or to discover how we can help you achieve your organisational and people goals please call +44 (0) 330 223 0464 or find out more at www.engageandprosper.com