A colleague pointed me to this article on organizational change and brain science, entitled “The Neuroscience of Leadership,” by a business coach and a psychologist, so I thought I’d share some of its implications for educational leaders.
The authors summarize new brain research, conducted using technologies such as fMRI, and conclude that behaviorism, humanism, and other traditional means of bringing about change in others or in organizations simply don’t work. Instead, they point to focus, expectations, and attention as keys to forming new neural pathways and, ultimately, to creating lasting change.
In order to learn a new behavior or a new way of thinking, we must through repetition and attention repeat the behavior or use the new way of thinking until it is ingrained in our neural pathways, the connections between our brain cells that constitute memory.
Of course, it’s easy to envision this process for learning a sport or a language; it’s harder to see the practical application in areas as complex as organizational improvement and changing the way a group works together. As groups work together, people will from time to time come to great insights, and leaders must capitalize on these insights by returning people’s attention to them again and again, focusing attention on the question of how these insights can improve the work at hand.
In short, educational leaders should
focus people on solutions instead of problems, let them come to their own answers, and keep them focused on their insights.