Predicting Leadership Behaviour

Pamela Becker, General Manager at Hogrefe Ltd. attended the recent meeting of the European Test Publishers Group (ETPG) where Dr. Andrei Miu, director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Babes-Bolyai University (Romania) in the Department of Psychology, explained how the field of organisational neuroscience is emerging as a new discipline, and could supplement the field of psychology in looking at leaders and predicting their behaviour.

His team looks at social cognitive neuroscience, and defines it as a prism, containing cognition and neural activity of course, but viewed in an individual within the context of past behaviours and experience alongside that individual’s personal and social views.

Looking at it this way, suppose you wanted to know which manager would be more inspirational and appropriate for your organisation? In his lab, Dr. Miu and his staff have been recording brain activity while participants are completing cognitive tasks pertaining to leadership using EEG technology. You can see changes and use spectral analyse to quantify the power of the bands and the frequency, resulting in the recording of engagement. He also uses magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) to look at the brain activity, which results in coloured images that can be superimposed onto each other to look at rest and activity.

Applying these techniques in organisational settings (e.g. with leadership or marketing) is fascinating and experts in the field are enthusiastic about the possibilities. Neuroleadership is a term given to the study of leadership through neuroscience – using the methods described above. Early studies have showed correlations between EEG scores and whether individuals were identified as transformational leaders, tactical leaders, or emerging team leaders by looking at their brain activity whilst performing specific tasks, meaning that we may be able to predict how people will lead by looking at their neuro responses.

Is this simply a new management fad, along the lines of Total Quality Management (which has fallen out of favour) or is organisational neuroscience the way forward? Scientific experts are cautiously optimistic, with the positive early data and the enthusiasm for using neuroscientific techniques within organisations. So it is possible that neuroscience and its predictions could influence the way we choose leaders in the future.

  • News