June 21st 2018

Neuroscience for Leadership – Interview with Dr. Tara Swart

Corporate Research Forum has caught up with Dr. Tara Swart to review some of the science behind leadership stress and resilience. Dr. Swart invites us to consider brain agility and mindfulness as success factors for optimal performance, especially for those in leadership roles. In this interview, we focus on thee important questions:

  • What are the most useful applied neuroscience ideas, especially for top management roles?
  • How can neuroscience help us with the diversity agenda?
  • Can the findings of neuroscience help us build better workplaces?

CRF members can also access post-meeting review notes from the key note talk delivered by Dr. Swart, where we summarise the key messages and insights.

Transcript

[00:00:00] Question 1: What two or three neuroscience ideas may be useful when applied to top management roles?

Dr. Tara Swart [00:00:10] The most exciting applications of neuroscience to management are around neuroplasticity and how this relates to emotion, intelligence and building mental resilience. So both of those areas are literally pathways in your brain that you can build. And if we focus on them as physical tasks rather than intangible unknowns, it makes the job easier. And it is literally about building a thicker pathway for understanding your own emotions and other people's responses and also doing things every day to keep your mental resilience topped up.

[00:00:45] Question 2: How can neuroscience help with diversity agenda, especially when it comes to overcoming cognitive bias?

Dr. Tara Swart [00:00:45] Diversity is a really complex subject and neuroscience has a lot to add in this area. We actually peg people on up to 150 known stereotypes. The minute that we meet them, and particularly if we have a few old rested and hydrated, our brains were more likely to default to our unconscious biases. We all have unconscious biases, and the best way to apply neuroscience to this issue is to try to raise those biases from unconscious to conscious as much as possible, because then you can do something about it.

[00:01:25] Question 3: Can the findings of neuroscience help us better our workplaces, and how?

Dr. Tara Swart [00:01:25] Neuroscience has so many applications to the individual teams, businesses and larger communities. So it starts with the individual and we need to do all the right things to keep our brains in optimal performance. And then with teams that oversee about those interpersonal relationships and how we leverage them and diverse thinking to create new ideas and innovate going forward in terms of organisations, it's really about creating a new vocabulary for how we understand our brains work, our customers brains work, and how we can really leverage the brains of everyone in the organization to keep a business growing, to create sustainable behaviour change and to pivot when necessary, because there are so many changes going on around us.

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