Good leadership isn’t an art. And it isn’t a science, either. What do we mean by this? We mean that leadership is, in fact, many sciences. What makes for an effective leader and how to become one, are questions addressed by such diverse scientific fields as neuroscience, the psychology of self-efficacy, systems dynamics, the psychology of persuasion, evolutionary biology, behavioral economics, and quantum mechanics.
In this month’s Know How Network column, we’ll introduce what each of these fields tells us about effective leadership practices: what they are, and how to achieve them.
First, neuroscience helps us understand why distractions are so detrimental to good leadership. Notifications on our phone, unread email messages popping up, the “ding” of a new text message — all of these distractions activate the “fight or flight” part of our brain, also known as the limbic brain. In this “fight or flight” mode, we’re not able to engage in the higher-order mental processing that is needed to lead effectively.
We learn from the psychology of self-efficacy that believing in your ability to achieve your goals actually helps you achieve them. Taking on and successfully completing small goals helps you build the confidence you need to conquer your more ambitious leadership goals.
The logic of systems dynamics helps us understand how self-efficacy works. As you feel increasingly valued and competent as a leader, you put greater effort into your leadership, creating what is called a “feedback loop” in systems dynamic modeling.
The psychology of persuasion shows that when you help someone, they are more likely to help you in the future — this is called the “law of reciprocity.” Effective leadership requires you to provide value to others and engage them in your projects so that, together, you create the greatest possible value.
We know, from evolutionary biology, that most people have a natural drive to help others. Human evolution depended on humans helping other humans in order to help themselves survive. Drawing from this natural inclination to help others is an immense asset in leadership when you share your innate strengths with others.
Behavioral economics brings our attention to the different kinds of capital in our lives that allow us to build effective leadership practices: financial, social, knowledge, brand, and infrastructure. Great leaders know how to leverage all 5 sources of capital in their lives to get an optimal return on their investment (ROI).
And last but not least, quantum mechanics has found that the observer creates the observation. In other words, you bring into being what it is you are looking for. An effective leader sets their intention clearly, which then allows them to discover and attract the resources they’ll need to achieve their intention.
Becoming aware of the vast body of literature on leadership is, of course, just the first step to becoming a more effective leader. To really develop mastery of proven leadership practices requires practicing these skills in your daily life.
Cheetah Learning’s 60-hour online Cheetah Leadership Program provides this opportunity by showing you how to draw from your own unique strengths as a leader in order to maximize your effectiveness. Learn more at www.cheetahlearning.com.