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  • Writer's pictureLorissa Page

Neuroscience and HR Leadership

Neuroscience seems to be the new ‘in’ thing but what does it mean for HR?

HR Leaders can lead an organisation to success, but it requires insightful leadership. Having an awareness of what is happening within the brain and how this translates into the behaviours we see playing out in the boardroom and across the workforce, means that we can influence and shape our organisations.

Neuroscience impacts on every area of an HR Leaders responsibility. So how can we use the part of our brain that will instinctively guide us towards good decision making? 

We all work at our best when we feel empowered and safe within our environment. Our ability to create, articulate a vision and empathise is possible when we feel secure – in our abilities and within our environment. However, when stressed or in a state of threat, logic and reason eludes even the most collected and intellectual individual. When we are in a state of stress our thinking ability shuts down and we resort to habitual and conditioned emotional responses. Having an awareness of these chemical changes will enable you to create safety in your brain and will help you to respond positively to your environment.

Workplace change can bring uncertainty to employees, which can then lead to a climate of mistrust and fear.

The work ecology is impacted by economic changes, requiring businesses and organisations to transform. Workplace change can bring uncertainty to employees, which can then lead to a climate of mistrust and fear. Understanding the ‘how and why’ behind people’s behaviour during periods of change will influence how leaders show empathy in approach to change, how staff related communications are positioned, and how procedures are implemented. It will also enable leaders to provide the right support to employees.

During economic challenges insecurity in the Boardroom can negatively impact the leadership team’s ability to effectively lead the organisation and cultivate a healthy culture. HR Leaders can also add value at Board level by helping to shape a mature leadership team where peers feel open to challenge and hold each other to account. Politicking and vying for position at board level could all come down to individuals being in a state of threat which can create dysfunction. Having an understanding of the neural chemical changes taking place in our counterparts will enable positive change and growth.

“Until we can understand our own responses to situations, and the vital ness of our emotions on everything we say and do, we cannot begin to understand how we can effectively work with others, run our teams, create loyal customers or develop businesses that are profitable.” Maria Paviour

Neuroscience offers a helpful insight into what is often behind the behaviours seen in the workforce but also provides an opportunity to positively improve our work environment and company performance.

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