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By Jacqueline Codsi, M.Ps.org., CRIA, ASC and Nathalie Langis, M. Sc. CRHA
Article published in Le coin de l’expert of the HRPA
While Human Resources Professionals have been skeptical of NeuroLeadership, which has been on the rise in the business world, after thorough examination there is no doubt that NeuroLeadership provides excellent tools for organizations. NeuroLeadership enables organizations the decisive factors that create inspiring and collaborative environments, while simultaneously avoiding poor morale and apathy that so often results in the loss of talent and high turnover in organizations.
Based on scientific research, NeuroLeadership explores several dimensions of the human brain. Historically the two fundamental responses in the brain: approach (reward) and avoid (threat), have been viewed primarily as survival responses. Today’s research, however, indicates that these neurological responses also directly apply to human social experience. Avoidance involves fleeing what might constitute a threat (either real or perceived), while approach involves maximizing rewards. Across all types of relationships, at home or in the workplace, these primal reactions deeply impact human behaviour. Triggering these responses can lead people to either be on the defensive (avoidance) or be open to collaboration and connectedness (approach).
The feeling of commitment produces increased activity in the human brain’s neurological circuits, which in turn produces the dopamine hormone (a “reward” neurotransmitter) that is released in the prefrontal cortex. Therefore, a person who feels commitment will have greater emotional and cognitive capacities, and their memory will also be improved.
On the otherhand, feelings of apathy stimulate the brain’s defensive circuits signifying a threat; and therefore, individuals experience anxiety. As a result, their energy will be spent on defense and survival mechanisms leaving them with fewer resources for concentration and productivity. It has been shown that often they will distrust others and take fewer risks.
According to the SCARF model created by David Rock, five factors or fundamental needs are hypothesized to modulate these two types of neurological responses. When these needs are fulfilled, a human being will achieve a higher level of confidence and collaboration. However, when they are threatened, the brain goes on the defensive and survival and avoidance coping mechanisms are triggered.
|Status||The need to maintain a certain status or preserve one’s “rank” in relation to others.|
|Certainty||The need for certainty and security helps to predict the future and adapt.|
|Autonomy||The need for autonomy provides individuals with a sense of choice and control over their own destiny.|
|Relatedness||The need for belonging, or to feel part of a group (formal or informal) and the ability to count on its support.|
|Fairness||The need for equity and justice, the feeling of fair exchanges between people|
By considering these factors the SCARF model can help HR Professionals to collaboratively and creatively resolve problems in the workplace. On the other hand, if these five factors are not considered or supported organizationally, individuals are more likely to feel threatened (avoidance) and poor performance and high turnover become more likely.
The Real Challenge for Managers and Organizations is:
Such insights should also motivate managers and human resources departments to rethink their HR processes.
A few relevant questions:
NeuroLeadership can be helpful in readjusting certain approaches to guidance and mentoring, change management, career management, and coaching. The tendency of some managers and organizations to concentrate exclusively on performance and results should be revisited. In talent management and organizational change strategies, it’s time that organizations acknowledged the equally fundamental importance for their own survival by taking the time to survey the degree of commitment and mobilization of their employees, and to listen to their concerns and “resistance”.
NeuroLeadership opens the door to some powerful tools, based on rigorous science. Leaders are constantly concerned about taking effective action that pays off in terms of results and commitment. A better understanding of how the human brain works truly facilitates changing behaviours more promptly. Although trends in human resources have evolved over the years, it is certain that NeuroLeadership is far from being a passing fad.