Leaders Are Made, Not Born – Brain Plasticity

Mar 2012

For years arguments have raged as to whether leaders are born or made. New research on neuroscience points strongly that our experience continually shapes our neural connections in an effect known as “brain plasticity”. Leaders in many cases can be MADE.

So you CAN teach old dogs new tricks. With repetition and commitment, new neural connections are made and leadership behaviours altered.

I have been greatly impressed by the neuroscience work of my friend Professor Paul Brown and recommend you read David Brooks (The Social Animal) and John Medina (Brain Rules).

Two simple sayings are influential:
1. “Neurons that fire together, wire together”.
2. In neural terms, “use it, or loose it”.

So there is hard neuroscience behind our soft skills. It pays to continually keep your brain active, in middle and old age, with learning new skills (helping minimise the risk of Alzheimer’s).

Work with someone to make healthy connections and learn from experience to become a better leader. It’s sometimes cheaper to learn from others mistakes. I’ve made more than my fair share!

Warm regards
Professor Jonathan Perks MBE

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