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Applying neuroscience into leadership field moves assessments to a new level

Many organisations are not flexible enough to adapt to the dynamically changing environment and then utilise the potential of their key people. One of the common reasons for this might lie in the discrepancy between the internal setting of the company and the inner world of the individual employees. And it is this discrepancy that causes unproductive conflict that negatively influences further development of the company.

(Source: Amrop Slovakia)

Many organisations are not flexible enough to adapt to the dynamically changing environment and then utilise the potential of their key people. One of the common reasons for this might lie in the discrepancy between the internal setting of the company and the inner world of the individual employees. And it is this discrepancy that causes unproductive conflict that negatively influences further development of the company.

Companies try to exploit the potential of their employees to the maximum level, often unaware of how to work with them optimally. Often they rely on analysing their employees’ levels of competence and build development programs to further develop their skills and abilities based on this. But that usually is not enough. Something has been missing in assessing people as most of the assessments have not gone into analysing features of the mind, a point that is so important for truly understanding how a person functions. There have been assumptions about how the human mind works, however, the current development of brain science and the findings of neuroscience help to understand much better what is going on in the brain and how the human mind works. Quite often the neuro-scientific findings prove that assumptions are not correct.

Neuroscience helps to better understand human behaviour

As Brown, Swart and Meyler state in their article published in the 2009 issue of Neuroleadership Journal: “The development of social cognitive neuroscience and its application within the corporate environment marks a fundamental shift in the organizational application of knowledge about human beings. The essentially descriptive and declamatory writings of a hundred years of psychology and seventy -five years of management theorizing are giving way to explanatory models grounded in replicable experimental evidence as to how the brain actually works, and therefore to an early understanding of what the underlying neuro-mechanisms of human behavior really are.“
Therefore it is important to try not only analyse the competence but also the features of the mind in order to get a true and full picture of the person. Only then we can see how much the person is in line with the inner environment of the organisation and how effectively they can work together in order to optimally exploit the potential of the person for the benefit and the needs of the organisation.

People have their own version of the world

The mismatch between the business context of the organisation and the context of the mind and the competence of an individual usually stands in the way of successful transformations. Once we realise that there is no such thing as objective reality and that everyone of us lives in his/her own version of the world, as our minds do not record an objective version of the world but only our subjective experience with the world, then we can move to a different way of assessing people. Consequently we can tell that it is incorrect to look at a person as if he/she would function in a real physical world instead of trying to understand his/her own mental version of the world. If we accept this then we can bring into alignment the inner world of the person with the inner setup of the organisation.

Thoughts and emotions drive action

The newest neuroscience findings bring innovative ideas to the field of leadership assessments. If we accept that a person’s actions are determined by his thoughts and not the other way around, then it is clear that we need to understand how a person thinks and what emotions in certain situations initiate his/her action. It also needs to be understood that we are driven by emotions and therefore analysing how a person understands his/her own emotions, the level of positive thinking, drivers of motivation, intuition, empathy and perspective taking are key to effective work with people.
The growing knowledge of the brain helps to understand a number of phenomena. For example, it has been proven that no matter how rational we think we are, we cannot make decisions without our emotions and therefore they are always involved in our decision-making process; trying to be mindful in every moment makes a person’s decisions better. Another example is linked to stress and fear as one of our strongest emotions when even suppressed fear creates anxiety. Most of the time all managers experience anxiety and if they do not acknowledge it, then they might be unaware that access to some of the brain centers are compromised and they do not make decisions on all available information and full brain power. Understanding pain systems and reward systems of the brain, knowing how learning happens as well as how to get our brain into optimal condition to perform at the highest level – all of that helps to get a better performance from managers.

People should understand and take care of their brains

It is fascinating to follow the discoveries of neuroscience and it is exciting to apply it to the leadership field as it helps to get a deeper and better understanding of why and how leaders and managers perform. It is like an athlete who has to perform at his best on the day of his competition, and for that he needs his body to be in the optimally trained condition. Similarly, leaders and managers need to perform at their best when making decisions and for that they need to have their brains in the optimal condition. Applying neuroscience findings provides for getting the best performance from our brains when it is needed and helps to guide us on how to prepare our brains for that.

Context Driven Leadership Assessment

Amrop has a long tradition in helping organisations to identify areas for improvement and how to make management teams more efficient. It aims to offer working tailor-made solution that reflects the specific situation of the organisation, its market position, strategic goals and values with maximum use of their human capital potential. To meet this ambitious goal and offer complex and comprehensive service, Amrop innovated one of its core services and introduced Context Driven Leadership Assessment (CDLA).
CDLA offers an answer to the question to what extent the assessed manager with his unique set of skills and knowledge, current level of competency, talent, personality and specific type of thinking is in congruence with the internal setup and needs of the organisation he/she works for or intends to work for and with the expectations the organisation has with regard to the specific position he/she holds or might hold. This is followed by a recommendation of how the gap between the corporate and individual environments could be narrowed.
CDLA is a solution that helps organisations to achieve sustainable competitiveness through strategic assessment of their management team and talent base. It builds on analysis of organisation’s internal environment, reflecting the required levels of competencies and applying neuroscience findings to better understand specifics of the human mind and how it affects human behaviour. CDLA is based on assessing four contexts as shown in the scheme.
The results of this assessment offer a different and more comprehensive interpretation of how the assessed managers and leaders work and how they can bring additional value to the organisation. It is especially beneficial in situations when there is a change in top management, during succession planning or mergers & acquisitions. It is also beneficial when organisation needs to identify development needs in key personnel or find room for improvement in the functioning of their management teams.

Amrop Slovakia
is a leader in Executive Search, Board Advisory, Leadership Assessment & Human Capital Consulting. It is part of the worldwide Context Driven Executive Search network with 88 offices in 58 countries. Amrop Slovakia is the longest active Slovak member of The Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) – most respected global association of consulting companies focused on Retained Executive Search & Leadership Consulting and still the only AESC member with fully-fledged office in Slovakia.

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Written by Igor Šulík, Managing Partner at Amrop and member of NeuroLeadership Institute
For more information, go to www.amrop.sk or www.aesc.org

Topic: Career and HR


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