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Neurology of leadership


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Neurology of leadership

  1. 1. Neurology of Leadership Several years ago E. Goldratt, the author of the bestseller ‘The Goal’infected many business consultants, including me, with the idea of ‘a viablevision’. The genius of management worked out the methodology providingthe possibility to create a vision for the company how to turn its turnoverinto profit in four years. The methodology is absolutely logical based on real achievements ofthe enterprises. I, as a business consultant, immediately understood theemerging opportunities and enthusiastically grasped this wonderfulchallenge. The sale of the idea on a world’s scale was highly successful –business owners and managing directors promptly figured out the essence ofthe proposal and agreed to undertake the projects. 1
  2. 2. However, in spite of management’s enthusiasm, the employees werevery quick to minimize its level to the ordinary ‘why should we do it?’ Moreoften than not they would silently sabotage the project while simultaneouslyexpressing a vociferous approval. The same story recurred in differentcountries: Lithuania, Russia, the Netherlands, Estonia, Ukraine, England,etc., i.e. in the countries with different consultants. Only very few projectswere followed by their successful implementation. In one European project awell-known motivator was hired, however, the enthusiasm created wouldlast only a few days. The offered handsome bonuses or division schemes offinancial results were of little help. Finally, in one company we managed toachieve the expected result, but it was obtained only when four consultantstook to directly manage the four main processes (i.e. they became managers,not consultants), and the business owner not only managed the project inperson, but also became one of the main sellers. 2
  3. 3. Then the question for numerous consultants and managers, including me,arose: why is it so difficult to involve the employees into a rapidimprovement of the company’s activity, even though they are guaranteedgenerous bonuses for each stage of the achieved result? The picture is showing the managerial point of view. (REX I. M.K. Ciurlionis) And the following is the answer which I have found, the answer basedon neurological research: It is the too ambitious goals which paralyze the employees. Theseambitious goals nearly ‘switch off’ their brain! 3
  4. 4. Here one of R. Branson’s ideas might be relevant: “Whatever yourgoal, you will never reach it, unless you get rid of your fears and start aflight”. (‘Naked Business’) So, what happens to a human brain when he is shown a goal shining atthe top? For most people, about 90 percent, a part of the brain, so-called‘almond body’, (Lat. amygdala), is activated. This is the part which in thecase of threat is responsible for the reaction ‘fight-or-flight’. The activatedalmond body tends to block the prefrontal cortex area of the foreheadresponsible for thinking and which controls such high level creativefunctions as decision making and search for opportunities. This phenomenonwas proved by brain scanning. The more activated the amygdala lights up,the less the prefrontal cortex does. The research proved once again that thebelief that fears is the greatest stimulus for change is but a myth! Fearamong the employees tends to stimulate resistance to change rather thanchange itself. The managers, who choose to keep their employees in fear,have to reconsider their attitudes. Again, according to R. Branson, “if youwant to do something properly, you have to plan and to prepare”. Therefore,I propose to carry out a simple research – give a task for your employees toclimb the Mont Blanc peak. How many of them will agree? How many will 4
  5. 5. agree to watch from a distance? And how many will refuse to evenapproach? The same will happen to too ambitious business goals. Most employees’ point of view – we are to small to climb! (REX II. M.K. Ciurlionis) If so, then the ideas by J.Collins and J.Porras described in the book ‘Builtto Last’ have to be reconsidered. The authors maintain that at the beginningone needs ‘to gather all passengers into the bus’. Then they will decide onthe destination, i.e. create ambitious ‘hairy’ goals. 5
  6. 6. To turn the task into a viable one, it is necessary to select people, theprefrontal cortex of whom, viewing the shining peaks, is not blocked, but,rather, is activated. The people like this account for about 10 percent, who,in the case of trouble, come to save their associates. For the majority of employees, however, the Japanese methodology canbe applied. The Japanese do not display the company’s ambitious goals oreven the day’s goals to their employees, but, rather, only the current tasks. (REX III. M.K. Ciurlionis) 6
  7. 7. They are allowed to see the success of their day’s efforts only at theend of their working day. I would like to finish with R. Branson’s words: ‘ I never say “ I cannot dothis, because I do not know how. I am going to discuss it with other people, Iam going to study this, and I will find the way to do it. To watch, to listen, tolearn – these are the things one has to do all his life, not only while atschool”.I am inviting you to read, to learn, to search together. Darius Radkevicius darius@goodstream.euAn Author of book "God, Quantum Physics, Organizational Structure andManagement Style" 7