Emotional Reactions or Rational Decisions in Leadership
- Why is understanding how the brain works crucial for leaders?
- Why do smart leaders make dumb decisions?
Decision-making is at the heart of all leadership, from C-level executives right down to mid and lower-level management. Decisions by employees about whether to follow a leader are made constantly throughout every organization.
People have long believed that most decisions are made using rational, logical thinking. In recent decades, though, Neuroscientists have discovered that up to 95% of decisions are made based on emotional responses, instead.
There is a close connection between leadership and marketing. Companies like Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook are now applying Neuroscience insights to influence their customers to drive up sales. Through a better understanding of why people decide what and where to buy, they have gained a competitive edge. Leadership is about influencing people to take actions. What we have learned from applying Neuroscience to boost sales and marketing is applicable to leadership.
How Neuroscientists Study Human Behavior
2 decades ago, a classic consumer behavioral study took place in a wine shop. On alternating days, either French or German music was played in the background as people shopped. On days when French music was played, French wines sold better. On days when German music played, shoppers bought more German wine. When asked whether the music influenced the purchases, though, consumers said that it did not or that they didn’t even notice the music. Their decisions were made based on unconscious factors.
Neuroscientists and Psychologists create very carefully designed and controlled studies to help them understand how the human brain reacts during decision-making. Long ago, only social experiments like the wine shop example were possible. More recently, technology like EEG and functional MRI (fMRI) scans allow researchers to see what is going on deep in people’s brains as they make decisions.
Marketing, Sales and Leadership Benefit from Neuroscience
In recent years, the Neuroscience of decision-making has caught the attention of many business leaders. Understanding how people make decisions is at the core of what businesses need to know to improve sales and revenues. Innovative companies like Google, Amazon, Twitter, and others began to apply the insights from Neuroscience.
Philosophies and practices of leadership have long been based on anecdotal information and personal experience. In just the past few years, though, a few Neuroscientists have turned their attention to applying the latest scientific research to leadership development and training.
Learning More About Applying Neuroscience in Leadership
Dr. Terry Wu is constantly seeking out research studies and evaluating them. His speaking and consulting on marketing and sales have influenced many sales and marketing leaders. He is now applying his deep understanding of Neuroscience and behavioral science research to speak and consult on leadership. Dr. Wu is dedicated to sharing this knowledge with business and organizational leaders. His goal is to help leaders understand and apply Neuroscience research to improve their leadership skills. In his keynote speeches at virtual or in-person conferences and meetings, and through focused professional consultations, he aims to help leaders in business and non-profit organizations become more effective.