MaST Learning and Development Event - Think Better, Lead Better - Summary

MaST Learning and Development Event - Think Better, Lead Better - Summary

6th May 2015


This event provided senior managers from a variety of organisations, with the opportunity to consider how we can understand and improve our thinking (and feeling), in order to meet today’s leadership challenges.

First, we explored the dichotomy between, on the one hand…

Our normal sense as leaders that we:

  • are rational and balanced, both aware of and in control our emotions
  • appraise each situation and conversation on its merits and respond in the best way to achieve our long-term objectives

and on the other hand…

The increasing data from neuroscience that our brains are wired to make very quick judgements about perceived threats and opportunities to help us to survive and thrive. Often these judgements:

  • are based on limited data
  • operate automatically and out of our conscious awareness and control
  • come from just one perspective - our own immediate one
  • shape how we interact with our stakeholders and colleagues

We asked why this might matter.  We explored how fit our brains are for today’s leadership challenges.  We looked at how the human brain has evolved to be:

Good at:

  • sensing danger or opportunity and motivating us to act quickly
  • thinking on ‘autopilot’ to conserve energy

Not so good at:

  • thinking through today’s complex business challenges in collaboration with others
  • updating strongly held beliefs in response to new information

The Opportunity - Think Better, Lead Better

Next, participants used a brain process model to gain insights to their own leadership behaviours and actions and uncover opportunities to improve their leadership.

They distinguished between controlled and automatic brain processes and also between thinking (cognitive) and feeling (affective) processes.  They explored:

  • how we use automatic feeling processes to form quick impressions and intuitions to motivate us to avoid or approach in order to survive or thrive
  • how we use learned, automatic thinking processes, for example mindsets and assumptions, in order to respond to situations
  • how we use controlled feeling processes to take the perspective of other people and empathise in order to understand situations better
  • how we use controlled thinking processes to gather and evaluate complex data, make judgements and come to decisions

While exploring these processes, participants tried out a range of techniques to:

  • increase self and social awareness in leadership situations
  • identify and regulate emotions in critical conversations
  • make better leadership judgements and decisions
  • coach others to better performance in a brain-savvy way

Participants took the opportunity to try just a few of the development tools which lie at the heart of MaST’s brain-friendly leadership and team development, delivered through facilitated training or one-to-one coaching sessions.

Finally, participants rounded up a packed morning schedule with a discussion of the implications of neuroscience for developing leaders, and included questions like:

  • How prepared are we to challenge leaders’ thinking and feeling and make them feel uncomfortable?
  • Given what we know about neuroscience, how can we help people to change their behaviour, not just understand it and explain it away?
  • How can we help people to apply their insights and change their behaviour back at work?

Should you wish to discuss Think Better, Lead Better please call us on 0800 316 9090, email or visit our website