I love the freedom and flexibility that our brains are capable of.  I always knew that we were able to reprogram limiting beliefs and create a new reality. Learning about how our brains work was game-changing for me because it confirmed that we were capable of all I thought we were.  My work on leadership development and neuroscience forms a central part of my coaching practice and how I can help others become the people they were always meant to be.  I truly know that not only do we have the ability to create the changes we need, but our brains are wired to help us do that.

This is essential information for leaders because not only can they grow and change, but they also understand how they can support their teams to change.

How Neuroscience Influences Leadership Development

I have been coaching for a long time and throughout my career I followed my gut, making decisions on some of the theories and practices I know, but often just instinctively forging ahead.  My inner guide was almost always working well and I was able to tap into my intuition in my coaching practice.  But honestly, if someone had tried to get me to provide evidence or explain my gut instincts I may have floundered.

Then I learned about neuroscience and I felt completely validated.  It was a bit like I had been hearing a song for years and it was so familiar, and suddenly I was shown the sheet music that set out the notes to a song.  Neuroscience didn’t change my intuition, instead, it provided me with a deeper understanding and appreciation of it.

And so here I want to share some of the facts about leadership development and neuroscience which made me realise I was on the right track.

1. Neuroplasticity and Leadership Development

I always knew people could change.  I never subscribed to the notion that we were stuck.  Unless of course, we chose consciously or unconsciously to be stuck.  Discovering neuroplasticity completely confirmed what I believed about our ability to change our programming.  Neuroplasticity is like the brain’s superpower, especially for leaders. It’s about how the brain can rewire itself throughout life.

For leaders, this means an incredible opportunity for growth. Imagine being able to adapt to new challenges, learn new skills, and guide your team through change, all because your brain can change its connections. But it’s not just about the leader; it’s also about helping the team. By creating an environment where learning and adaptation are encouraged, leaders can foster a culture where everyone’s brain gets a chance to grow and reshape. This could be through new projects, training sessions, or simply promoting a mindset of continuous improvement.

2. Influence of Thoughts and Beliefs in Leadership

When it comes to thoughts and beliefs, I knew we were in the land of creating our reality.  Our thoughts and beliefs are like the programming code of our brains. Positive thinking and constructive beliefs strengthen our neural pathways. For leadership development, this is huge. Leaders who cultivate a positive mindset not only enhance their brain function but also set a tone for their team. You know, “walk the talk.” So, as a leader, if you’re consistently positive and believe in your team’s capabilities, you’re not just motivating them, you’re physically impacting their brain’s wiring for the better. Plus, promoting this kind of environment helps everyone think more positively, making the whole team more resilient and adaptive.

Understanding how our thoughts and beliefs programme ourselves and others,  leaders can replicate the Pygmalion effect, which was demonstrated in the study by Rosenthal and Jacobson in 1968. The study found that teacher expectations could influence student performance. Teachers were told some students had high potential (randomly chosen), resulting in those students showing significant academic improvement, demonstrating the Pygmalion effect in educational settings. So, leaders, you could be getting less than great results because of your expectations!

3. Emotional Regulation and Control in Leadership

Emotional regulation and control are all about how well we manage our feelings. It’s a critical skill for leaders because it affects decision-making, relationships, and stress levels. The cool part is that our brains can be trained to get better at this, like working out a muscle. Techniques like mindfulness and cognitive-behavioural therapy, which are grounded in neuroscience, can help enhance emotional stability. For leaders, being able to stay calm under pressure or handle difficult conversations gracefully is gold. And as a leader, you can teach these skills to your team.

Be proactive about emotional regulation.  Set up workshops, share tips, or even just lead by example, showing your team that managing emotions is a key part of being a great professional. A word of warning though, genuine emotional regulation acknowledges emotions and demonstrates that emotions are important.  Too often I have seen leaders who have been so good at seemingly regulating how they feel, they hide their emotions and therefore lack empathy and cannot connect emotionally with their team.

4. Learning and Memory in Leadership

Early in my life, I prevented a lot of my suffering, when I realised we were on this Earth to learn.  Had a challenging situation? Then learn from it, instead of falling into victimhood.  When good things come together, then learn the ingredients of what went into that.   When I discovered Neuroscience, I realised that our brains are wired to learn.  It is one of our prime functions.  I was amazed when I knew my perception of learning was backed up by science.

Learning and memory are at the heart of personal and professional growth. Our brain’s ability to learn and remember things is like a foundation stone for any leader. It’s not just about storing information; it’s about adapting to new knowledge and skills. So, for leadership development, emphasizing continuous learning is key. And it’s not just attending a seminar or reading a book; it’s about applying that knowledge, making mistakes, and learning from them. Leaders can foster this by encouraging a culture of curiosity and learning within their team. Imagine a team where everyone is constantly learning and evolving – that’s the kind of team that can tackle anything.

5. Habit Formation and Change in Leadership

One of the fundamentals bringing together leadership development and neuroscience is habit formation.  Habit formation is fascinating because it’s deeply rooted in our brains. The basal ganglia play a big role here, handling the development of routines. For a leader, understanding how habits are formed is crucial. It’s about identifying the habits that are holding you and your team back and then working to change them. Developing new, beneficial habits can significantly enhance team performance. You might start with small changes, like how meetings are run or how feedback is given. It’s all about setting new routines that align better with your goals and values.

It wasn’t until I was clear about how our brains work in forming habits that I was able to change some of my lifetime habits.  Habits and neural pathways are closely linked in the brain’s learning and memory system. When we repeatedly engage in a habit, neural pathways associated with that behaviour become stronger and more efficient, making the habit easier to perform. Conversely, when we stop practising an old, unhelpful habit, the neural pathways connected to it begin to weaken over time due to less usage. This process, known as synaptic pruning, is part of how the brain remains efficient. Meanwhile, forming new, positive habits involves creating and strengthening new neural pathways. Each time we repeat the new behaviour, these pathways become more robust, facilitating the establishment of the new habit.

6. Impact of Mindset in Leadership

Finally, let’s talk about mindset. Many of you will have heard and read about the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset.  The concept of a “growth mindset” is particularly powerful in the context of leadership and neuroscience. It’s all about seeing challenges as opportunities to grow rather than insurmountable obstacles.

Leaders who embrace this mindset not only drive their personal development but also inspire their teams to adopt the same approach. Encouraging a growth mindset can fundamentally change how a team faces challenges, learns from mistakes, and pushes the boundaries of what they think is possible.

There are many other benefits that leadership development and neuroscience come together.  I believe that if you understand how you tick, and how your brain works, then you will uncover the true self.  The leader you were always meant to be.



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I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.

I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.