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Want to Inspire? First, Develop Trust

By George Kohlrieser

If you want to inspire a team or organization, first you must develop trust.

What leaders have inspired you? Who is the best boss you have ever had? Beneath the inspiration it is likely that there was a strong sense that you could trust that person and that they trusted you. Without having trust in an organization’s leaders, people will not be inspired to follow their direction.

Trust is a key aspect of secure base leadership. I have worked extensively with this concept, which came out of the work of John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory. A secure base is a person, a place, or a thing that creates a sense of comfort, gives energy, and inspires one to be curious, seek challenge and take risk. A secure base is someone who provides both safety and challenge. Secure bases can also be anything that inspires, like goals, symbols, places, memories. Secure base leadership is the ability to create a state of safety not for the sake of safety but to support someone in stepping outside their comfort zone where creativity, innovation, and exploration best takes place.

You can think of it like a child’s relationship to their parent, caretaker, grandparents, or teacher. They want to be close to them to feel safe, but they don’t want to stay there. They want to go out and explore. A leader has to create that same environment. They must create a trusting and safe environment, in which a person can explore possibilities and the potential of what she can do.

For any of you familiar with climbing, another way of thinking about it is like belaying. The belayer acts as a “secure base,” positioning himself or herself at the bottom of the ascent. The climber is attached to one end of the rope and the belayer, using a device clipped to his harness, holds the other end of the rope so that the climber has enough slack to move, but not enough to fall any great distance. As the climber advances upwards, the belayer remains at the bottom to secure the climber. The relationship is all about trust. The climber, like an employee, can take risks precisely because the secure base figure or leader below is supporting them.

Why Is Trust so Important?

Trust has an important effect on how our brain functions. The brain has one fundamental goal: to survive. And most people are living to survive. However, more than 80 percent of people are not really thriving, and are driven instead, by a fear of failure or anticipated loss. For success at life and work, the brain has to be rewired to focus on thriving, on opportunities and on looking for what is right and what is possible when something goes wrong. If there is trust, people can drop their programmed defensiveness and become more open to new ideas and solutions. Leaders who care about their teams are able to dare them to stretch (and to take risks).

There is a paradox here between caring and daring. A leader can show trust — and caring — and still hold people accountable. Caring is not rescuing. I ask leaders around the world, “How caring should a leader be?” It should be 100 percent. AND — How daring should a leader be? It’s 100 percent.

When a leader earns trust, it’s like they are putting her or his hand on your shoulder so that you are not afraid of failure. Great bosses trust others and don’t punish failure. Instead they give high quality feedback and ask you to change.

If we translate caring and daring to leadership styles using Dan Goleman’s model, the affiliative style is a good basis to work from as it is the personal part of leading. However the leader should never accept lower standards and that’s why the affiliative style has to be combined with the visionary style of leadership, which means that people will want to follow the leader to “dare” themselves and to be inspired. These leaders deliver “pain” (feedback) and people say ”thank you, give me more pain (feedback)!” Why? Because they see the benefit of the pain (feedback) to reach high performance.

Trust creates an environment that enables us to attach and to bond with others. It is the opposite of detachment, isolation, over-independence or self-reliance. In teams it creates a sense of belonging which is essential for collaboration in high performance.

What does an organization look like that is based on trusted and Secure Base Leadership?

It starts at the top. When you walk in, people feel welcomed. They feel a sense of calm rather than defensiveness. They don’t feel like they are going to be judged. You see people doing things spontaneously, being able to engage in proactive behavior and teamwork. Most importantly, you see the resolution of conflict. There is always going to be differences, and those differences can drive people apart, break the connections, and break bonds. You always find people are able to engage in good conflict management – a Crucial Competence – because the trust and the bond is maintained.

How can you Develop Trust within your teams?

Developing trust takes focus and commitment. How do you rate yourself on these nine areas that characterize a secure base leader?

  1. Staying calm under pressure
  2. Accepting the individual while encouraging change
  3. Seeing the potential in people
  4. Using listening and inquiry
  5. Delivering a powerful message
  6. Focusing on the positive
  7. Encouraging risk taking
  8. Inspiring through intrinsic motivation
  9. Signaling accessibility

Learn more about Crucial Competence: Building Emotional and Social Leadership.

What Hiring Managers Want vs. What Recent Graduates Have

Daniel Goleman’s Harvard Business Review articles have been helping develop leadership skills up to the C-suite for decades. As the class of 2016 begins to enter the workforce, these highly acclaimed articles remain as relevant now as ever before.

What is it employers look for when hiring recent graduates? What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters is a collection of Dr. Goleman’s writings designed to explain the components of emotional intelligence and why they matter at work.

Recent Grads: What Makes a Leader?

Recent research by the Hay Group surveyed business leaders and recent graduates based in India, the U.S., and China. More than three-quarters of managers reported that entry-level workers and recent grads are not ready for their jobs.

According to the Hay Group, recent graduates often lack “soft skills” unrelated to their technical or cognitive abilities. These skills include key emotional intelligence (EI) abilities such as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and social skills.

Dr. Goleman’s article “What Makes a Leader” continues to be one of Harvard Business Review’s best-selling articles. First published in 1998, Dr. Goleman’s message has resonated with people across all walks of life: what distinguishes outstanding leaders is emotional intelligence.

“What Makes a Leader” was just the beginning of Dr. Goleman’s writings about emotional intelligence in HBR. His next HBR article, “Leadership that Gets Results,” summarized the data from Hay Group on leadership styles that build on EI abilities and their impact on the emotional climate of organizations.

More Than Sound has reprinted “What Makes a Leader” and “Leadership that Gets Results” in a collection of Dr. Goleman’s writings, including three additional HBR articles, pieces about the importance of focus for leaders, and other recent brief articles.

What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters is available in affordable print and e-book formats, is a compact volume that delivers a wealth of insight and timely information for leaders young and old.

From Daniel Goleman’s Introduction to What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

“This collection of my writing on leadership and EI – mainly articles I’ve written in the Harvard Business Review – reflects how my thinking has evolved. When I wrote Emotional Intelligence in the mid-1990s, I included a short chapter, called “Managing with Heart,” that made the simple argument that leaders need strengths in emotional intelligence. This, at the time, was a new and rather radical idea. That chapter, to my surprise, got lots of attention, particularly from people in management.

As I looked into the data on leadership and EI for my next book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, I became even more convinced. I took advantage of my training back in graduate school from David McClelland, who at the time was a pioneer in the method known as ‘competence modeling,’ which allows a systematic analysis of the specific strengths that make someone in a given role an outstanding performer. When I did a rough analysis of close to 200 such models from a wide range of organizations, I found that the large majority of competencies that distinguished the best leaders were based on EI, not IQ.

That caught the eye of editors at the Harvard Business Review, who asked me to write an article summarizing this. Called ‘What Makes a Leader,’ that article is the first chapter of this book. My next HBR article, ‘Leadership that Gets Results’ – the second chapter here – summarized data from Hay Group on leadership styles that build on EI abilities, and their varying impacts on emotional climate of the organization.

As I looked more deeply at the new findings from neuroscience on the dynamics of relationships – and what that meant for the drivers of excellence and high-impact relationships – I again wrote for HBR. Those articles, too, are included in this book. My most recent thinking has shifted frameworks to explore how a leader’s focus matters for effectiveness. The chapter ‘The Leader’s Triple Focus’ summarizes sections on leadership from my book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. And, the final chapter, written for a magazine (by coincidence called Focus) published by Egon Zehnder International, reflects on the ethical dimension of leadership. I’ve also included several of my blogs, placed after the relevant chapters, that either further delve into the topic or complement it. These first appeared, for the most part, on LinkedIn; some are from

I hope my reflections gathered here will help you along the way in your own leadership journey.”

making difficult decisions

Your Body’s Role in Making Difficult Decisions

making difficult decisions

Don’t let the voice of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”- Steve Jobs

When it comes to making difficult decisions, how do you hear “your inner voice,” that your heart and intuition somehow already know?

Listen to your body’s signals.

Making Difficult Decisions: Gut Feelings

Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, explained the complex process of how our minds and bodies formulate and respond to a hunch for our video series Leadership: A Master Class.  You can read the excerpt here.

There’s wisdom in the body. When you’re self-aware, you get a gut feeling. You have a heartfelt sense. Our gut feelings are messages from the insula and other bottom-up circuits that simplify life decisions for us by guiding our attention toward smarter options. The better we are at reading these messages, the better our intuition.

Yet sometimes, if we have been traumatized, for example, the gut feeling we get can lead us astray. If you’ve been bitten by a dog or hurt by someone who had red hair, when you see a dog or a person with red hair, your gut may say “bad, bad, bad”, and may create a tone of negativity that is based on past traumatic experience. So bodily input doesn’t always mean you should respond to it directly. You should analyze it.

Making Difficult Decisions: Somatic Markers

Somatic marker is neuroscientist Antonio Damasio’s term for the sensation in our body that tells us when a choice feels wrong or right. This bottom-up circuitry telegraphs its conclusions through our gut feelings, often long before the top-down circuits come to a more reasoned conclusion. The ventromedial prefrontal area, a key part of this circuitry, guides our decision making when we face life’s most complex decisions, like who to marry or whether to buy a house. Such choices can’t be made by a cold, rational analysis. Instead we do better to simulate what it would feel like to choose A versus B. This brain area operates as that inner rudder.

Making Difficult Decisions: Sensing

Erica Ariel Fox spoke with Daniel Goleman in his Leadership: A Master Class video series about “direct knowing”: I know this, but I don’t know how I know it. I didn’t read it in a book. Nobody told it to me. I didn’t have an Excel spreadsheet that laid it out for me. Nonetheless, I know it. She argues that we have a set of skills that coaches and leaders who work with teams might call “reading the room.” Others call it attunement or discernment. It’s not data processing and thin-slicing, and it’s also not having an emotional evaluation of decisions. It’s a sensing. When she works with a team in crisis, she recognizes that tuning in to the group’s feelings and emotions helps her ask the right questions about what’s happening.

Making Difficult Decisions: Use Your Body

When we’re under pressure, we become narrow minded and tense. We aren’t able to tap into our body signals. But we also forget to use our body to help us refocus. Taking a time out also allows us to hone our self-management skills. Paying attention to the mental and physical signs and experiences that occur during stressful situations gives you an opportunity to practice composure.

Breathing is often abandoned or compromised when anxiety arises. A few conscious deep breaths will oxygenate your brain and improve the clarity of your thinking. Here is a simple exercise you can do: Breathe in and count one… then breath out and count one. Breathe in and count two… then breathe out count two. Breathe in and count three… then breathe out. Keep repeating this in a steady rhythm.

To ground yourself further during the process, place your hands on your abdomen or chest and observe the sensation of your abdomen or chest rising and settling. Learn to relax in the experience.

Master the Art of Making Difficult Decisions

making difficult decisions

Registration is open for the Mindful Leadership Breakthrough System, a live webcast series with executive coach and senior meditation instructor, Dawa Tarchin Phillips. The program is designed to help executives and leadership development professionals apply mindfulness principles to overcome common internal and external barriers to presence, productivity and performance.

mindfulness coaching

Mindfulness Coaching: Start with Your Own Journey

mindfulness coaching

Mindfulness Coaching: Practice Makes Perfect

Juliet Adams’s coursework for her Masters degree in training and performance management didn’t include mindfulness coaching. And, it showed. She pushed hard to achieve, and paid the price in stress. Adams worked beyond peak performance. The result? Burnout. Then, she discovered mindfulness. With these practical techniques in her mental toolkit, she was able to recognize that her clenched jaw and raised shoulders meant stress and how to shift out of that.

At first, Adams used mindfulness for her own well-being. Then, her own learning about the impact of mindfulness seeped into her work. Initially, she noticed a shift around how she approached her job. Then, she started to incorporate aspects of mindfulness into her consulting practice. She’s found her clients to be very receptive.

Adams is now the author of Mindfulness at Work for Dummies and Mindful Leadership for Dummies. She is also the founder of and the director of A Head for Work, a leadership and workplace productivity firm. She’s also a contributor to Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit. Adams joined More Than Sound founder Hanuman Goleman for a conversation as part of More Than Sound’s “What is Mindfulness?” podcast series.

Mindfulness Coaching in Organizations

How do you introduce mindfulness in an organization? That’s a question Daniel Goleman explores in his article, “Introducing Mindfulness in Organizations.” Goleman shares advice from his colleague and a key adviser to Google’s Search Inside Yourself curriculum, Mirabai Bush. Bush said, “When I meet with prospective clients, I listen not just for what they need – but what they perceive that they need. That helps me determine my approach. There are so many different ways to talk about mindfulness and its effects.” Bush has developed different exercises for use in a range of settings, available in her audio collection Working with Mindfulness.

If you’re in a position to hire a mindfulness coach, the first question that often comes to mind is: what makes a good mindfulness coach? Mirabai Bush offers some insights for organizations looking for such services, and for what it takes to be an effective coach:

Mindful presence

When you’re interviewing potential teachers or coaches, notice whether the person is in the moment, without judgment, and really present for you.


Before people begin to teach mindfulness, they should do significant practice, not just in mindfulness but in teaching mindfulness. There are several reputable training programs available such as Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program.


Again, teaching mindfulness is different from practicing mindfulness. There are many people who want to start teaching right after they learn it. After spending some time practicing – or even after some formal training – it’s easy to assume, “Oh, I could teach people to sit down and bring their attention to their breath and breathe in and out. Anybody can teach that.” But that is not true.

Coaching style

With mindfulness coaching and training in an organization, you’re asking your team to look inside themselves and begin an inquiry into the parts of our minds, bodies and hearts that most of us ignore most of the time. That’s profound. You really want to have someone you can trust to lead you through that exercise.

What the Research Says

Bush discussed how to apply mindfulness research and techniques in organizations with Jeremy Hunter, Daniel Goleman, Richard Davidson, and George Kohlrieser in the print book, Working with Mindfulness: Research and Practice of Mindful Techniques in Organizations. In that book, Bush and Goleman spoke about their experience of introducing mindfulness techniques to secular audiences – including the US Army. Here’s an excerpt from their discussion:

Mirabai Bush: For a long time there was a lot of resistance to introducing mindful techniques in some of the organizations I worked with. But as soon as people agree to try it, the benefits become very obvious. Participants become more calm, more clear. They begin to have better insight into what’s happening, and they begin to get along better with the people they’re working with. So once people agree to try it, there’s really no problem. But there is still resistance to trying it, although much less since the publication of the neuroscientific research on mindfulness. All the work that’s come from Richard Davidson and others has really helped people get past a certain level of resistance and skepticism.

Daniel Goleman: I can give you a little background on that change. You mentioned Davidson. He is now a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Richard and I were fellow graduate students at Harvard. He was the other one who was interested in meditation. He did his dissertation on attention and so on, and he has gone on to develop a field called Contemplative Neuroscience, which has upgraded the quality of the research on mindfulness and meditation.

Until Richard’s work, frankly, some was great, and some was terrible. Now this research is using fMRIs and state-of-the-art brain imaging. What it’s showing is what we knew intuitively when we were in India, which is that these practices can be quite transformative. And if you practice them a lot, it’s really transformative. If you practice a little, it’s still transformative.

What we found in the research on relaxation was that one of the byproducts of focusing your mind is that your body lets go and relaxes. And the reason it lets go is that one of the things that keeps us stressed is these tight loops of thoughts and ruminations—what’s on my mind, what’s upsetting me—which are hard to let go.

Meditation training, whether it’s mindfulness or any other kind of meditation, teaches you how to drop those upsetting thoughts. Our understanding is that it’s the letting go of those thoughts, putting your mind in a neutral or present place and keeping it there, that causes the body to be able to drop the tension, let go of the stress, and then get deeply relaxed.

mindfulness coaching

We asked leaders who are shaping the mindfulness movement to offer a more nuanced survey of the mindfulness landscape. Listen to the podcasts here.

Mindfulness Coaching Audio Resources

Working with Mindfulness

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress

Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Attune: The Role of Focus in Authentic Leadership

Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function

changing habits

Changing Habits: Know When to Turn Off Your Autopilot

changing habits

iStock/Shivendu Jauhari

Changing Habits: When Autopilot Takes You in the Wrong Direction

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

If you think about it, we live much of our life on autopilot. We’ve developed countless habit loops for daily activities: brushing our teeth, commuting to work, setting our DVRs. Unfortunately, some of our critical decision-making skills also go into sleep mode.

In the workplace, it’s natural to develop decision-making patterns due to time pressures, other priorities, even overconfidence (“I’ve done this before. I’m a pro.”). Our responses to problems or situations become automatic. When X event occurs, pull lever Y to solve the issue.

However, not all obstacles are created equal. A lack of presence around the nuances of a situation can be detrimental to a project – or an organization. Knee-jerk decisions often lead to costly mistakes. “This is how we’ve always done it” leadership mantras can also stifle thoughtful responses to unique challenges.

Fortunately there are several ways to become more aware of your ingrained behaviors and learn more productive ones.

Changing Habits: Find Your Blind Spots

An emotionally intelligent leader can monitor his or her moods through self-awareness, and change them for the better through self-management. But where does one start? How can you identify the areas you need to improve?

One way is to ask others to help you identify your blind spots. Hearing the truth about yourself can be uncomfortable. But self-delusion can derail even the most talented professional. Gather feedback from as many people as possible – including bosses, peers, and co-workers. Seek out negative feedback, even cultivating a colleague or two to play devil’s advocate. Keep an extremely open attitude toward critiques.

Such 360-degree feedback will reveal how people experience you – and provide you with valuable information about how you tick.

Changing Habits: Know How You Process Emotions

Customer complaints, tech issues or office politics illicit different emotional responses in different people. Knowing how you respond to such challenges can help you discover and practice new thought patterns that are positive and productive.

For instance, anger is a common response to office mishaps. Sometimes it’s justified. But will blowing up at a co-worker solve the problem? Will passive-aggressive treatment change the “wrong-doers” actions? Or would taking a five-minute walk help clear your head? After you’ve calmed down, could you talk with your co-worker to get a better understanding of the factors that played into making the mistake?

Remember, we may not be able to choose our stressors, but we can always choose how we respond to stress.

It’s also helpful to understand how our brains process emotions. The emotional centers are in the middle of our brains, especially in an area called the amygdala. In Daniel Goleman’s book The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights, he says,

“The amygdala is a trigger point for emotional distress, anger, impulse, fear, and so on. When this circuitry takes over, it acts as the ‘bad boss,’ leading us to take actions we might regret later…. The key neural area for self-regulation is the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s ‘good boss,’ guiding us when we are at our best. The dorsolateral zone of the prefrontal area is the seat of cognitive control, regulating attention, decision-making, voluntary action, reasoning, and flexibility in response.”

Changing Habits: Stop, See, Choose

Learning to recognize mental and physical signals to emotions play a major role in shifting mental habits. Do you grind your teeth or tap your pen on the table when meetings get derailed? Practice noticing your responses to triggers. Use them as guides to shifting your internal dialogue to a more neutral place. “I’m doing it again. Let me put my pen down, loosen my jaw and count to five. Then I can gently remind the team that we need to stick to the agenda.”

The more you become aware of thoughts, feelings and physical reactions to triggers, the more opportunities you have to practice behavior change.

Changing Habits: Retrain Your Brain

Making change means rewiring our brains by doing and redoing new behaviors, over and over, to break old neural habits and make a new behavior automatic.

One approach is mentally preparing for a task. This activates the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that moves us into action. More mental preparation translates into doing better at the task. And, the prefrontal cortex is particularly active when someone prepares to overcome a habitual response. Without that brain arousal, a person will reenact tried-and-true but undesirable routines. Learning agendas literally give us the brainpower to change.

Even just envisioning new behaviors will help. Brain research shows that imagining something in vivid detail can fire the same brain cells actually involved in doing that activity. Mental rehearsal and experimenting with new behaviors make the neural connections needed for genuine change, but they aren’t enough to make lasting change. For that, we need help from others – coaches, trainers, or trusted peers.

Changing Habits: Real-Time Test

Habit change may be a self-directed process, but it can’t happen in a vacuum. Our relationships with others help us articulate and refine our ideal self, compare it with reality, assess our progress, and understand the usefulness of what we’re learning.

We need to practice new skills with other people – in a safe environment. We need to get feedback about how our actions affect others and to assess our progress on our learning agenda.

Changing Habits: Additional Resources

Brain Science

Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function

The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights

Practical Application

Mindful Leadership Breakthrough System

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress

Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit






explain mindfulness

How Do You Explain Mindfulness?

explain mindfulness

How do you explain mindfulness?

How Do You Explain Mindfulness to Someone Unfamiliar with It?

Many definitions of mindfulness only make sense to someone who already knows about mindfulness. That’s what Juliet Adams has seen in her work as an organizational consultant. Adams is the author of Mindfulness at Work for Dummies, the founder of, and the director of A Head for Work, a leadership and workplace productivity firm. (Juliet is also a contributor to our Thriving on Change program.)

Adams joined More Than Sound founder Hanuman Goleman for a conversation as part of More Than Sound’s “What is Mindfulness?” podcast series. She said her favorite description of mindfulness is:

“the ability to focus attention and observe impartially the interplay between thoughts, emotions, and bodily responses. At any given moment, this allows you to choose a wise response to any given situation rather than a knee-jerk autopilot response that may or may not be appropriate.”

Adams said that a popular definition of mindfulness is one used by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The essence of Kabat-Zinn’s definition is: “paying attention on purpose in the present moment and without judgment.”

Adams has found that both her description and Kabat-Zinn’s definition often leave newcomers to mindfulness looking puzzled. In the first of four segments, Episode # 136: “What is Mindfulness? Your vs. Popular Definition of Mindfulness,” Adams shares an explanation of mindfulness that always gets people nodding in understanding.

After you listen, think about how you explain mindfulness? What definition resonates most with people?

Explain Mindfulness: Is it the Same as Meditation?

One point of confusion for many is the difference (and similarities) between mindfulness and meditation. Daniel Goleman clarified some definitions in his article What Mindfulness Is – and Isn’t. He says:

“Mindfulness” refers to that move where you notice your mind wandered. With mindfulness you monitor whatever goes on within the mind. “Meditation” means the whole class of ways to train attention, mindfulness among them.

He went on to point out that some meditation methods require you to be mindful of thoughts, feelings, or fantasies without judging or reacting. This self-awareness in itself tends to quiet the mind. However, many meditation methods are concentrative – you continually bring your mind back to a single point of focus such as your breath or counting. Concentrative methods use mindfulness to notice when your mind wanders so you can bring it back to that one focus.

Explain Mindfulness Through Practice

Regular practice can fine tune how you explain mindfulness. Use everyday opportunities to deepen your practice – at work, at home, or even during your commute. Below are some resources to help you get started – or take it to the next level.

Working with Mindfulness – Mirabai Bush developed mindfulness audio exercises for the workplace to help reduce stress, increase productivity, and encourage creative problem solving.

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence – Daniel Goleman created guided exercises to help people of all ages hone their concentration, stay calm and better manage emotions.

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress – Daniel Goleman developed a 45-minute audio program to help listeners effectively and naturally reduce stress.

Awake at the Wheel: Mindful Driving – Renowned Vipassana teacher Michele McDonald developed guided mindfulness exercises to practice during your commute.

understanding brain science

Knowledge is Power: Understanding Brain Science Matters in Leadership Development

understanding brain science

Why Understanding Brain Science Matters

In this brief video clip, Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel discuss the value of understanding brain science behind effective leadership.

Understanding equals power – the power to recognize ineffective behavior and to choose actions that work. For leaders, this means having access to a range of styles suitable for different situations. Coaches and other leadership development professionals can use knowledge of brain science to target their work, and enhance their credibility.

The Key to Understanding Brain Science: Brains Can Change

A key message from neuroscientific research is that the brain is plastic, changing with repeated experiences, practice, and learning. In Brainpower, Dr. Goleman and Dr. Siegel share insights from leading researchers about how to change your brain through specific training programs.

In a special preview of Brainpower, Dr. Goleman explains research by Jean Decety, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, who has shown there are three distinct wiring patterns in the brain for different kinds of empathy. Any type of leadership role requires use of empathy to maintain good relationships. Tania Singer at the Max Planck Institute has designed training programs for the empathy circuitry that produce positive changes. And Daniel Siegel’s “wheel of awareness” exercise helps boost brain integration.

understanding brain science

Preview Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

This excerpt from Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership includes two segments from the Lead with Empathy chapter. The first segment features Daniel Goleman and the second is with Daniel Siegel. (Brainpower is also available as an audio download.)

In the first segment, Daniel Goleman uses examples from the daily work of leaders to explain:

  • The three types of empathy
  • How the social brain works
  • Research on the impact of empathy in business settings

In the second section, Daniel Siegel responds to Dr. Goleman’s comments, describing groundbreaking research on the neuroscience of empathy and how to harness the power of the social brain.

Go here to stream a free exclusive excerpt of Brainpower.