Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lead with the brain in mind

According to recent research at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the social pain that people experience when they feel rejected causes a response in the brain similar to that of a physical blow. So when people say that it hurts to be left out or devalued, that's because the brain doesn't differentiate between physical and social suffering.

Researchers Naomi Eisenberger and Matthew Lieberman hypothesized that "human beings evolved this link between social connection and physical discomfort within the brain because, to a mammal, being socially connected to caregivers is necessary for survival."

Any number of situations may cause social pain - from being excluded from a discussion to getting reprimanded, to taking a pay cut. In some organizations, employees are expected to rationalize the way these events make them feel, but in the long run, it creates resentment and makes people reluctant to become engaged and committed in the workplace.

Leaders who want to create a collaborative environment that brings out the best in everyone and optimizes creativity and collaboration will do well to recognize this dynamic and take conscious steps to lead with the brain in mind.

Read more at Strategy+Business.

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