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  • Neuroleadership applies neuroscientific findings to the field of leadership.

Neuroleadership aims to ‘improve leadership effectiveness … by developing a science for leadership and leadership development that directly takes into account the physiology of the mind and the brain’ (Ringleb & Rock, 2008). Advances in imaging techniques are enabling scientists to understand how different parts of the brain activate in response to certain stimuli. As an example, awareness of physiological reasons why change processes are so often unsuccessful (due, in part, to the fact that change provokes sensations of physiological discomfort) means approaches to change can be developed taking into account these reactions (Rock & Schwartz, 2006).

There is ongoing work to apply findings from neuroscience to leadership, especially in the areas of decision making and problem solving, emotional regulation, collaborating with others and facilitating change (Ringleb, et al., 2012).

Criticisms and challenges

In the context of leadership thought, neuroleadership stands apart as a tool rather than a theory. Presented as a subfield within the general field of leadership study, advocates suggest reframing traditional leadership and leadership development theories through the lens of neuroscience (Ringleb & Rock, 2008; Rock & Ringleb, 2009).

Further reading

David Rock & Jeffrey Schwartz ( 2006). ‘The Neuroscience of Leadership’ in Strategy + Business, Issue 43.

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018