Neuroscience of Leadership Speaker Trainer

The Neuroscience of Crowd Influence

The brain evolved to follow other humans. This innate desire has kept humans alive.

In prehistoric hunting and gathering clans and tribes, following the group was a matter of survival. Experienced older hunters led their groups to find game animals. Seasoned gatherers, primarily women, led tribal members to places for foraging. Similar group activities among primates demonstrate that this is an inborn trait we have in common with our evolutionary ancestors. Belonging to a group is a fundamental need.

We behave differently in group situations than when we are alone.

In a classic 1968 study, two groups of volunteers were asked to fill out questionnaires. In the control group, each volunteer was sent alone into a room to do the task. After the volunteer entered the room, smoke began coming out of a vent. All volunteers quickly left the room and reported the smoke in this condition.

In the experimental group, each volunteer was sent into the room with two “actors” who worked for the researchers. The two “actors” acted as if nothing happened when smoke was coming out of a vent. In this case, only one of the volunteers left and reported the smoke. Our decisions are often influenced unconsciously by other people’s decisions.

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The Bandwagon Effect Cognitive Bias

The urge to follow the crowd is powerful. It can lead people to copy what others do, even if that behavior is irrational or even dangerous. Everyone follows if someone jumps up in a theater, yells “Fire,” and rushes toward an exit. That crowd behavior has led to many tragic stampedes. The Bandwagon effect is also widely used in marketing, politics, and social media venues to influence people to buy products.

We are more likely to mimic an action after seeing three people doing it once each than seeing one person doing it three times.

In a study published in 1998, Republican primary voters were given false poll information showing Dole leading Forbes or Forbes leading Dole in the 1996 Republican primary race. Those voters showed a significantly higher intention to vote for Dole after seeing the false polling showing Dole leading than after seeing results showing Forbes leading.

Building a Crowd of Supporters Enhances Leadership

Creating a group of people who enthusiastically support your ideas is key to building trust.

A top leadership skill is trust-building. Such a loyal group can significantly enhance your influence by taking advantage of people’s tendency to follow the crowd. In the marketing world, companies often pay popular influencers on social media venues to create and grow a following of customers. In corporate and organizational leadership, enlisting the support of a loyal group is a powerful way to influence others to follow your lead.

Following the group in hunting and gathering was crucial for the survival of early humans. The same is often true in today’s more complex society.

There is wisdom in crowd-sourced knowledge.

The TV quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire offered contestants the opportunity to ask the audience as a group for answers. Audience polling was correct 91% of the time. Similarly, asking 100 people the weight of a giant pumpkin and then averaging the answers will get an answer close to the actual weight.

Science-Based Leadership Methods Get Results

Conventional wisdom about leadership relies on trial and error and anecdotal information. While that sometimes leads to good ideas, advances in Neuroscience can verify or debunk leadership practices. Since the latter half of the 20th century, knowledge about how the human brain makes decisions and why we behave as we do has grown enormously. Applying that knowledge can improve leadership strategies by basing them on scientific knowledge rather than guesswork.

Dr. Terry Wu is an engaging and inspiring keynote speaker and workshop facilitator on the Neuroscience of Leadership. He masterfully turns science into compelling stories his audiences can easily relate to and understand. His enthralling keynote presentations and fascinating workshops will give you the latest insights to make you a better leader.

Anne Berg I was so impressed with Terry’s presentation when I first saw it months ago, I had to come back and see it again for a refresher. His insights and examples are incredibly valuable to all of us who spend our time in marketing and branding. The role of neuromarketing in our everyday lives is potent. Even if it’s largely a dynamic within our subconscious. We would all be smarter and better marketers if we pay attention to consumers’ emotions and subconscious minds. Terry’s ability to make complex neuroscience easily understandable is deeply appreciated. ~ Anne Berg, CEO, Vyway Market & Brand Strategy
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