Neuroleadership: what is it?

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Joe Dispenza

Neuroleadership: what is it?

Neuroleadership is a new approach that, contrary to what many might believe, promotes warmer and more humane leadership. The goal is to convince each of its members to make an important contribution to the organization.

Last update: January 24, 2022

Neuroleadership is a concept that combines neuroscience and organizational practices. Its goal is to improve leadership effectiveness based on a thorough understanding of the human brain. Therefore, it analyzes the brains of leaders, but also of workers and even consumers.

Work activities acquire a new meaning if we look at them from neuroscience. Neuroleadership focuses on finding new perspectives for aspects such as decision making, collaboration and teamwork, emotion regulation, problem solving and change.

All these activities can be approached differently if interpreted by the knowledge provided by neuroscience.

It is important to clarify that trying to understand cognitive activity at work has nothing to do with manipulation. We try to create the conditions so that everything goes well.

“Neuroleadership is a scientific discipline that focuses not only on the mental processes of the individual, but also on how they affect their surroundings and how they are affected by it. It refers to the leadership part and team management from a neuroscientific perspective.

-Santiago Vitola-

The principles of neuroleadership

The term neuroleadership was first used in 2005 in a publication in the Harvard University journal Harvard Business Review.

A year later the theories and principles of this new tool were collected by David Rock and Jeffrey Swartz in their article The Neuroscience of Leadership.

On the basis of what these authors have proposed, it can be said that the principles of neuroleadership are as follows:

  • Each brain is unique. Processes that tend to standardize or homogenize people are not convenient. Each person will show their particularities.
  • Reward systems are fundamental. Positive reinforcement techniques are much more effective than penalties or punishments.
  • There are no actions without emotions. The biggest motivation for taking action is emotion. The brain reacts much faster to an emotional stimulus. This affects openness to learning and motivation.
  • Information influences expectations and behavior. The lack or excess of information, as well as the lack of clarity, are aspects that significantly change a person's expectations and behaviors.
  • The mind is programmed to cooperate. The willingness to interact with others in search of consensual solutions to complex problems is innate.
  • THEexperience determines the behavior. Past events continue to mark the present way of acting, until experiences are made that determine a new direction.

The benefits of neuroleadership

The first to benefit from neuroleadership are the leaders themselves, since they can adapt their management style to more effective parameters. This perspective broadens their views and helps them better cope with the difficulties and potentials of the people they lead.

This tool also makes it possible to improve the level of worker satisfaction. In this way, greater cohesion in the work team is achieved and conflicts are reduced. Motivation and a sense of belonging also increase.

On the other hand, the neuroleadership facilitates change and learning. It reduces the uncertainty and stress that are often present when faced with a new situation. A more complete fit is achieved with this tool.

Some applications of neuroleadership

The principles of neuroleadership can be applied to many specific situations. Here are some of them:

  • Deadlines. When they are pressing, the brain reacts with stress and becomes less efficient. The ideal is to make this aspect more flexible and if this is not possible, it is better to compensate the stress with positive stimuli.
  • Leadership positiva. In this approach, great importance is given to one's own and others' emotions. It is proven that this often leads to better decisions and greater efficiency in the work team.
  • Qualitative assessments. Workers feel much more motivated when they are evaluated more comprehensively than simply "met expectations". Neuroleadership promotes more subjective and emotional assessments.
  • Overall motivation. Money isn't the only incentive to work. A cooperative and inclusive environment is sometimes more crucial in terms of motivation. Exclusion and rejection can even cause the same effects as physical pain.


Neuroleadership is based on a more realistic understanding of the human being, based on scientific knowledge.

It is a new tool, but one that promises to occupy a very important place in the workplace in the immediate future.

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