From Oracle HCM World: Impact of the Brain Reaction on Leadership

LAS VEGAS — I am blogging live today from Oracle HCM World and excited to bring you some of the fascinating nuggets of information for those of you who are not here with me.  I’ll be writing several posts based on sessions that I attend so you will know what is top of mind from the hundreds of HR leaders at the event.

This morning, I’m sharing some thoughts from Dr. David Rock, CEO of the NeuroLeadership Group.  They have been conducting some fascinating studies on how the brain works with regard to how employees think best about work, work environments, productivity and various other HR-related types of studies.   Here are a few facts that you may find not only interesting, but potentially game-changing as you think of your role as a HR leader approaching your organization’s approach to people.

When and Where People Do Great Work

In one of the studies, employees were asked where they do their best thinking about work issues.  Of the 6,000 respondents, only 10% said they do their best thinking AT work.  39% said they do their best work-related thinking at home, and another smaller percentage said they do their best thinking while doing activities like going to the gym.  Additionally, 59% of respondents say they do their best thinking in the morning.  

How can you use that data to think differently about how your employees work best?  

Relationship Between Leader Social Skills and Technical Skills

In another study, findings showed that as you become a leader, your self and social awareness increases but your technical skill decreases. This was measured as the employee moved from individual contributor to line manager, from line manager to a manager of managers, then on to the executive level.

The bad news is the capacity for self and social awareness in inversely proportional.  When leaders focus on developing their teams, they turn off their goal-focus circuitry. This means that when a leader needs to think about goals most, they are actually not mentally capable to also simultaneously focus on the people needs.  This can actually help explain why leaders, regardless of organization, cannot seem to do well in these areas.

The NeuroLeadership Group also did a study to see who was in the top third at being good at both people development simultaneously with goal focus.  The result was staggering — at 0.77% in a study of 60K managers and leaders who were tracked over 10 years.  This means that if your organization wants managers to be primarily goal focused, you will not have leaders with the capacity to effectively develop their teams. Think about this for a moment.  This flies in the face of the approach that many in HR and senior leadership have been taking for years.  It is counter-intuitive to think that we’d want leaders to be less goal-focused.

Will this impact the way you think about your approach to performance, leadership and development? 

Stay tuned for more great information from Oracle HCM World.

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