LEADERSHIP BY DESIGN - MODULE 14
Develop a nuanced understanding of six key insights about the brain, enabling you to seamlessly integrate these into your leadership for enhanced effectiveness.
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Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read all that material about the functioning of the brain and you’ve got a a feeling for what it is that the brain is and how it reacts. So, let’s start to turn our attention to some of the lessons that have been derived from the study of brains. The study of neuroscience and the way that brains actually work. There are six really interesting lessons that have come out.
And there’s lots more about these in the material that you’ve got. So let’s just run through them very quickly. The first one is that we think in maps. We relate information together one piece to another to another, and so therefore what we do is we create maps, we create pictures and I think we understand that, and you know some of the stuff about creating mind maps, for example.
It is a reflection of the fact we think in maps; we don’t think in a linear structured way. But that can help us for not only structuring information, but for understanding how we might structure ideas, how we might present things to people and that graphical connections and about mapping is an important part of the way the brain works. Secondly, up close. No two brains are the same. Every brain has had a different existence, physically it’s different, but also in terms of the lessons, the experience, the information that’s coded in the brain and the way the brain actually works.
So, what that means is that all of us are individual, and that most importantly, that we think differently, all of us think slightly differently from each other. And what we can’t do is have a one size fits all solution. The three areas of functional leadership John Adairs model team, task, individual and remember that about the individual well, this again is reaffirming the point that however much we want, we might want one solution for everybody. We’re all individuals. We all think differently. So, to some extent we need a bespoke solution for everybody, and you must understand that people will actually use the same intake, the same information and produce different answers with it. That’s not right or wrong, that’s just the way it is.
The next lesson is that we hardwire everything. Our brain is a collection of neurons and synapses. We remember things by creating connections in the brain. Like I said, we create maps. But memories are hardwired in the brain. This what happens when we’ve learned something, we attempt to hardwire it into the brain. If you like, putting it into long term storage so that we can come back and access that information again, in the future.
But what that means is that if we’ve learned a way of thinking, we’ve learned a way of behaviour, it becomes hard wired so it becomes an instantaneous response so that we don’t have to think it through from scratch. So if we’ve got an old and bad way of behaving, then it’s actually quite hard to create a new and better way of behaving because we’ve learned the old way. It has become hardwired and we must remember that that is the way the brain works.
Now if our brain is hardwired with old information. What that means is that when we are learning things, seeing things for the first time. We are using hardwired knowledge. In other words, our perception will be based around our hard wired memories of that situation or something similar. So, we must be always be aware that the way we perceive things is based on our previous knowledge or previous experience and that is hardwired into us.
The fifth lesson is it’s actually really quite hard to change old wiring. It’s very hard. Suddenly change the way we think. We behave because it’s hardwired into us. It’s become well connected in our brains.
So that is the good news and the 6th lesson is that it’s easy to create new wiring, so this has the most profound impact for us as leaders in managing change. It is easier to teach people a new way of behaving rather than to get them to stop an old way of behaving. And there are so many ways we can use this to manage change, whether that be at the individual level with the one person that you are working with, or mentoring, or coaching, or a number of staff, or whether it’s with the whole group.
But we create new wiring and we overlay the old wiring in the brain. We create new patterns of behaviour and then that becomes the norm. It becomes hardwired and it will overlay the old patterns. And this is perhaps something that we can work a bit upon when we start to think about managing change in the workplace.
So the task for today, read more about the six lessons and then when you’re at work, start looking for hardwired behaviour and just realise how hard it will be to change that. Then maybe you can think of ways of creating new hard wiring which is easier to achieve. So have a look at look out for that today and we’ll talk more about the brain tomorrow.