When referring to performance, discussion of how our brain responds and adapts to experiences has become commonplace. Every time our brain has a new experience and learns something, it forms new connections. These connections take place between the brain cells –known as neurons – and this process is known as neuroplasticity. We can strengthen these connections through repetition, reward and relationships. According to Jenny Brockis MD, ‘the more you drive your brain’s plasticity, the better your ability to function at a high level’¹ . Learning and making mistakes is one way we can encourage this plasticity in ourselves and our teams. Adopting a fail-fast culture and focusing on individual development is key.
Neuroleadership explores the core brain and body abilities that have a direct impact on leadership effectiveness, productivity and well-being. Neuroleadership also identifies how the brain responds to various situations in the workplace in congruence with the behaviours exhibited and provides insight into the behaviours conducive to providing autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Another area of neuroscience pertinent to performance is our ability to intentionally manage the release of certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) related to confidence and empathy. Not only are we able to influence the release of these chemicals through our diet, exercise and sleep routines, but also through our non-verbal actions. When we are behaving confidently, we feel confident. Positive states also create a positive environment for cell development and generation. Performance recognition, reward and acknowledgement can help create these states. As can gratitude, amusement, pride and curiosity.
Mindfulness meditation through MBSR (‘mindful based stress reduction program’) has also been found to drive neuroplasticity through increasing the amount of grey matter in the pre-frontal cortex (PFC) and the hippocampus. The PFC is responsible for memory, executive functions, logic and emotion regulation while the hippocampus is also responsible for memory as well as learning and emotions. This means that we can use mindfulness to increase the functioning of both the PFC and hippocampus.
The evidence linking neuroscience to performance and overall well-being is encouraging. Understanding what contributes to our brains working optimally is essential for leaders and their teams. At Cortex Consulting we incorporate neuroscience into all of our offerings so that organisations can get the best out of their people and enable them to flourish.