Neuroscience Research to Inspire Effective Leadership
Neuroscience Research to Inspire Effective Leadership
Brain research that helps create effective and inspiring leaders, by balancing two opposing ways of thinking: empathy and task focus.
Brain research that helps create effective and inspiring leaders, by balancing two opposing ways of thinking: empathy and task focus. Read more
You are a pioneering new brand of leader whose appetite for research on emotional intelligence and neuroscience inspires us. To provide those who participated in the MOOC with even greater tools and understanding to create a sea change in effective leadership, it is imperative that we continue our studies. Leadership matters. Teams, families, organizations and communities thrive and adapt with effective leadership. Sadly, research shows that most people in leadership positions do not add much value. Chronic stress, lack of effective training and socialization create ineffective or dissonant (i.e., disengaged and out of touch) leadership which results in tremendous waste and loss of talent. We are beginning to get inside the brains of leaders and discover how they think and feel – and how fast it all happens. The effect of being able to see inside the brain is transformative – finally we are getting insight into the fundamental neurobiological constraints which determine what actually works, versus what is only a good idea in principle.
In the MOOC (Massive Open On Line Course), Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence, Professor Boyatzis explained how the neuroscience research conducted by Professor Tony Jack contributes to strong leadership – leaders who inspire, motivate and help make others effective. But these studies are only the beginning. We need more insight into what great leadership is and how to develop it.
You have an opportunity to participate in helping create this knowledge through a donation to a research fund. Currently, we are asking for support to conduct the first study, but we are ready to begin the second and third one when sufficient funding emerges. Our goals are to produce new insight which will appear as published papers and to incorporate lessons learned into revised versions of the MOOC and other pedagogical tools.
Two opposing neural networks, the Task Positive Network (TPN) and the Default Mode Network (DMN) are each essential for effective leadership. They are also referred to as the Analytic and Empathetic Networks. But these networks suppress each other, which makes leadership challenging. The TPN allows us to focus, solve problems and analyze things. The DMN allows us to scan the environment, be open to new ideas, be open to seeing and working with others and to perceive moral concerns. The first study will test two key hypotheses: (1) effective leaders cycle back and forth between these networks at faster speeds than less effective leaders; and (2) effective leaders switch into the appropriate network to tackle the task at hand more than less effective leaders.
This is a wonderful quest. We are just at the start of understanding how to make people really effective - how to foster the kind of leadership that activates the talent of others for organizational performance and society’s benefit. These projects will help us find the keys to knowledge that will unlock happier, healthier and more productive workplaces and communities.
If our hypotheses are proved true, there are many implications for developing leaders in organizations. We could design better career trajectories and developmental assignments to insure that a person has heavy doses of analytic AND empathetic, relational activities in order to practice activating both networks. We could design training to increase the likelihood of learning “sticking” by using the experiential learning process within each program, course, day and even lesson. We can focus coaching and mentoring not only on “tips” and opening doors, but help future or current leaders to have several coaches and mentors to ensure that an equal number are focusing on DMN processes. In leadership and management education, we would change the sequence of courses in MBAs, undergraduate programs, and executive education programs to focus on alternating between analytic and relational topics, cycling the learning between focusing and opening their attention.
This will lead directly into our second proposed study, which is a continuation of the prior studies discussed in the MOOC on effective coaching. The third proposed study would boldly test these opposing domains ideas in education to determine if there is not only a learning of faster cycling speeds but also evidence of brain growth in the form of grey and white matter changes during Masters programs using a dual pedagogy versus predominantly being embedded in one of either analytic or a relational approach to learning. Our primary goal is to achieve funding for the first project. If additional funds are collected, they will be used towards the second and third projects.
Why are we coming to you to ask for funding? Let us explain. We are not just cutting edge in our research, but we are among the first to explore the use of crowd sourcing via Kickstarter to create funding of continued research and putting the future in your hands. . Be among the first to start this revolution in open funding of research, independent of private interests or government policy.
Neuroimaging research uses very advanced and expensive medical technology. Most neuroimaging research done in the USA is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), which is part of the federal government. However, NIH funding is strongly influenced by Big Pharma and is largely directed at drug discovery and medical interventions - in other words fixing diseases rather than preventing them. To make matters worse, the great recession has caused NIH funding to be cut severely.
It is hard to get people caught in this negative spiral to see the positive promise of this research. We are coming to you because you enrolled in Richard Boyatzis' MOOC, so we know you are open to seeing the tremendous value of this work. Your support is critical to helping us establish this research, so it isn't overlooked and ignored by the establishment. With your support, we believe we will be able to convince the doubters at the NIH and other funding institutions.
You will be helping us establish neuroscience as a critical tool for preventing the stress, anxiety and depression that is sadly so common in the workplace, and which ends up causing disease and costing huge amounts in medical treatment costs. Join us in taking learning about effective leadership to a whole new level. If the project is funded, we will establish a Facebook page with updates on progress and discoveries from the research.
For us, this is a really meaningful goal - to not only improve health but also well-being and productivity in the workplace. We hope you feel the same way and chose to join this effort.
The donations are made to Case Western Reserve University with the expected tax deductibility, depending on your personal situation and advice from your tax advisors. The donations are tax deductible in the United States if the goal is reached and actual collection occurs. We recommend that you consult your own guidance on the issue of the deductibility of the donation. For donations at certain levels, a person will receive, as recognition and a gesture of our gratitude:
Risks and challenges
This type of research has a risk of not recruiting sufficient number of desired subjects, delays in data analysis due to staff changes, and possible breakdowns of fMRI scanner equipment. We currently conduct 2-3 such neuroimaging studies a year and have developed numerous back up strategies for subject recruitment. By relying on doctoral students and undergraduates as research assistants, we have been able to assure the projects of appropriate and stable staffing. Although there is primarily one fMRI scanner for research, other scanner are available in the neuroimaging research centers at two hospitals in the area as backups.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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