Do you know a brain fried leader?

Not often that I find myself tearing out a page from the Evening Standard freesheet but an article this week by Niki Chesworth on ‘brain fried’ bosses caught my attention. It quotes research findings from a survey by Orion management consultancy that only one in twenty bosses are good leaders and four in twenty do more harm than good because they are ‘brain fried’. Would you agree? Certainly the concept of brain fried bosses, stressed out with dealing with the now and unable to focus on the future has a ring of truth about it.

Orion’s website includes a fun little video about the importance of designing ‘brain friendly’ leadership development programmes, based on neuroscience – a scientific understanding of how the brain works. To summarise their five principles for ‘brain friendly’ learning:
– we are best able to digest information fed to us in small chunks when we’re mildly stressed (by which I think they mean being awake and alert)
– we only remember information when we have used it several times
– we will only change our behaviour when we understand why something is good for us personally
– for new behaviour to stick, we need to make it a habit
– the brain learns best after a good night’s sleep!

Although much of this may be familiar, I think this it’s a useful model to stress test any employee engagement programme you are planning. Although learning about new things may be in our best interests, we always have to remember that positive change can be just as threatening to people as negative change. So, it’s important that we invest time and effort in helping people to see the benefits for them personally of any new learning. It’s also essential to follow up on the learning experience to reinforce the new behaviours, rather than simply assume that everyone will becomes an instant convert to the new way of thinking.

The final point about getting a good night sleep is a theme that I will return to constantly in this blog, as I genuinely believe that our 24/7, always on, digitally overloaded lifestyles is the hidden asbestos of our modern day corporate lifestyles.