How Neuroscience Can Help You Understand Your Boss

June 29, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

Next time your boss presses one of your “hot buttons”, before you react maybe you should wonder whether he or she is doing it on purpose. Do they know something about you that they are using to provoke a desired reaction?

This could be a case of neuroscience at play – in the workplace.

Neuroscience at Work

The field of Neuroscience is increasingly entering the world of leadership in business with a few possible scenarios:

1. It’s just plain theory and nobody applies it anyway.

2. Leaders apply it to help manipulate their team members to produce better performance.

3. Leadership use neuroscience to build, educate and inform their team and promote a stronger unit that strives together for enhanced performance.

Of course, ideally we are looking for the third scenario. This starts with leadership really understanding the nuts and bolts of neuroscience and how it applies to the behaviour of people in the teams they are leading; only then will they get to grips with the individuals and the dynamic interplay between them which makes teamwork such a difficult thing to get right.

A Good Boss Today

These days, a good leader comes in many potential styles but one thing doesn’t change – they get the best out of their people.

To rule by iron fist is an option, of course – one that has been tried by many past and present leaders to varying effect; but a good leader today usually has to have a number of approaches depending on who he or she is dealing with; if they have an understanding of why people behave the way they do, by being trained in neuro-leadership, then they will know that the human behavioural level is one where problems can truly be solved, rather than on a strictly boss-employee level.

A good boss will be something of a mind reader and will know your “hot buttons” not so he or she can manipulate you, but so that they inspire you and other team members to mutually beneficial results; as well as inspiring you, they can help develop you and get your career moving in the right direction and they will know something about your personal life, not just your professional facade.

He or she will be observant enough to know when you are having a good day or a bad day, when to gee you up or when to leave you alone, when to get other team members involved in a project and when to let you run with it.

An understanding of all this can have its root in learning neuroscience.

Understanding Your Boss

Just as your boss can use neuroscience, so can you, to develop your understanding of your boss; assuming that your leader has the best interests of the team at heart, can you understand why some unpopular moves might actually benefit the team as a whole? Can you better understand why certain decisions are made? Do you see how they interact with other team members differently to you – not because of any favouritism but because they know that different people react well to different stimuli?

Some team members demand regular rewards and recognition while others prefer quiet achievement, for example; some feel threatened by the performance of other team members and need their minds setting at rest.

Most of all, your boss knows that a comfortable, motivated, creative, problem-solving environment for all team members gets the best results… and that takes real leadership to nurture.

All these behavioural insights are what will separate your boss from being a run-of-the-mill manager to being a true leader. Next time you are about to turn on your boss, perhaps it’s time to bite your lip and wonder whether it is another case of neuroscience at work?

The team at NeuroPower can help with producing better organisational performance through enhanced teamwork and leadership. Find out how at the NeuroPower website:

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