3 min read

Developing Future Leaders, Latest Findings From Neuroscience Research

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Is your organization struggling to identify and develop your future leaders? If so, you’re not alone.

The Neuroleadership Institute has breakthrough research to help you out. Their review of the research and trends supporting why this topic deservers attention is because:

  • Leaders are getting younger
  • There are fewer levels to prepare leaders
  • Leadership is getting harder

The Stakes Are High

There is less time to develop the future bench of leaders and we need to pick stars early. Most companies report they are not getting this right or doing a great job with this, yet the demand for future leadership is not going away. A big challenge why this is tough, is that picking your future stars depends on assessing their potential so that you can predict their ability to succeed in the future. Companies more often have models for assessing performance than potential.

Biased Reporting

Another challenge is that current models are either based in self reporting or manager-based reporting and both are fraught with bias. Research shows that we have a tendency to see ourselves through rose colored glasses , with most people rating themselves at least above average as compared to others. There is also little statistical correlation between how people see themselves and how they are seen.

When Managers are reporting their assessment of talent, it is widely proven that they filter their perceptions through their own beliefs, experience and values, etc. rendering this form of assessment subject to bias.

David Rock, head of the Neuroleadership Institute does not claim to have this challenge licked, but does believe the work they have been doing to develop a new framework, informed by brain research, can shed some insight how to think about and tackle picking future stars better.

Framework For Identifying Future Stars

Their break through idea is a framework for identifying the desired leadership skills for future leaders understood from a competency and biological perspective. The leadership competency framework proposed that future stars need to possess the potential for includes the skills on the chart below. All of these skills have brain research to help understand the biology behind being able to do them.

Model for leadership potential and neuroscience, Ring Results Executive Coaching

How do we train these skills?

Brain science informs us on the challenges organizations are facing to develop these leadership skills.

Learning skills are the easiest to tackle. People can learn ways to manage their attention and generate insights from new information. They can learn to regulate their emotions and techniques for learning spaced-out-over-time vs. cramming-all-at-once.

Social Skills turn out to be the area researchers know the least about the trainability of in healthy, typical adults. Until we learn more, I think it’s safe to say that your future superstars should already demonstrate evidence that they bring these competencies to the plate.

  • Social perceptions: reading other people accurately
  • Building connections and earning trust

3 Big Take Aways

  1. People have the capacity to change. Find future stars who are open to learning and development and have a growth mindset vs. fixed
  2. Focus on teaching skills that research says will give you the biggest return: Focus and Learning Skills
  3. Include brain science in your training approaches. Since I have been introducing basic brain science to business leaders I work with, they have been better equipped to create the desired changes and be their best selves

Ring Results will keep you updated on the latest in this important topic as more research comes to surface--don't forget to subscribe to our blog: The Inner Ring!


Interested in learning more about the links between Neuroscience and Leadership?  Check out our recent post for resources to learn more about how neuroscience can help you develop your talent.

Have any suggestions for developing future leaders? Tell us below!

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