Friday, January 14, 2011

I like Dummies...

... the books, that is.

I've been a big fan of the "Dummies" books for a long time. I own at least 10 - they serve as great introductions to a new topic and help chart a course for expanded learning later on.

I guess you could say they are like Cliff Notes on steroids - or is that mixing too many metaphors?

For instance, when our 18 year-old son decided to give rugby a try after 14 years of playing soccer, it was "Rugby for Dummies" to the rescue. From a brief history of the game to key terms to strategy, after a few nights reading I felt somewhat knowledgeable about the game and could appreciate the fact that my son was a hooker. That's another story.

About a year and a half ago, I became aware of a book by John Medina entitled "Brain Rules", a fascinating study of how the latest studies in neuroscience were helping us understand more about our brains. A series of posts beginning here took a look at a few of the key learnings from the book.

Enter "The Leadership Brain for Dummies." Author Marilee Sprenger translates the recent abundance of brain science into into leadership principles which help your team keep operating at its best.

Applying Brain Science to Leadership

When you lead with the brain in mind, you address the structures of the brain and its needs. Scientists commonly consider the brain as a structure with three separate "brains" that have their own specialized jobs. Understanding how these different brains work and what they need enable you to better relate to and lead your team.
  • The survival brain wants safety and security. In a nutshell, its job is to keep you alive, and so it's always on the lookout for changes in the environment that might put you in jeopardy. You address this brain's needs by providing a predictable ans stable workplace - agendas, schedules, information, and procedures.
  • The emotional brain deals not just with emotion but memory. You help keep this brain moving along by being socially aware (noting your feelings but not letting them rule you), and you put it to work for you by giving your team an emotional connection to training. Any information that is connected to an emotion has a better chance of becoming a long-term memory. Also, remember that your emotions are contagious - whatever you are feeling will spread to your team.
  • The thinking brain handles the brain's executive functions: decision-making, future planning, judgement, and emotional control. The brain learns through feedback. Change your team's minds by providing immediate, constructive feedback.
Tomorrow: Feed Your Brain

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