Great leaders are born with better brains

Great leaders are born with better brains

by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis, Harvard Business Review

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New studies of the brain show that leaders are different to the rest of us in terms of their “social intelligence,” which allows them to be attuned to others’ moods and exhibit empathy.

According to Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis of the Harvard Business Review, social intelligence is “a set of interpersonal competencies built on specific neural circuits (and related endocrine systems) that inspire others to be effective.”

Effective leaders “are those whose behavior powerfully leverages the system of brain interconnectedness. Leading effectively is… less about mastering situations- or even mastering social skill sets- than about developing a genuine interest in and talent for fostering positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need.”

The way this all ties back to the brain: leaders recognize that brains are interconnected – their brain chemistry affects the brain chemistry of others (by triggering mirror neurons) and hence by acting in a manner that syncs up their brain chemistry, they are able to influence the follower’s thoughts to fall in line with their own.

Goleman and Boyatzis do imply, however, that such behavior can indeed be learned if one does not “naturally” fire up social neurons in one’s followers. This happens through the not so easy process of changing one’s behavior.

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