In our last blog, we explored what a ‘brain-friendly’ election campaign might look like. This generated some interesting commentary around the use of the term ‘brain-friendly’ and a question about what this term means?
At NeuroCapability, we use the term ‘brain-friendly’ to describe practices and approaches where attention is consciously paid to the key organising principle of the brain (ie: to minimise threat and maximise reward).
Leaders who adopt brain-friendly practices and approaches understand the importance of managing threat and reward responses for self and in their interactions with others.
Brain-friendly leaders appreciate the brain is a social organ and the implications of this for collaborating with and influencing others. They understand the brain finds change hard, so they have a range of strategies that support them to focus attention to support new neural wiring in the brain.
In addition, brain-friendly leaders understand that emotions are contagious so they have developed effective habits to notice and manage their own limbic arousal to threat and reward responses. They appreciate their pre-frontal cortex and know how to take care of it to support good decision making and thinking, and they understand how easily we are distracted and that multi-tasking is bad for performance.
If we were observing a leader using ‘brain-friendly’ practices we might see them doing some of the following:
- supporting staff to do the thinking rather than thinking for them
- looking for opportunities to create certainty and a sense of autonomy for their staff
- minimising potential distractions for themselves and their staff (emails are checked at agreed times, phones are off during meetings)
- noticing and labeling emotions and feelings to dampen down their limbic response
- focusing attention on solutions rather than problems
- being curious and asking insight finding questions – “Do you have a hunch about…?” “What is the most outrageous thing you could do in this situation?”
How would you define brain-friendly? What practices do you think demonstrate a brain-friendly approach?