Brain Advantage Paperback – 15 Jul 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
At this point, three key points need to be stressed. Contrary to what many people believe, the capabilities of the human brain can be developed over time. That is, "intellectual firepower" can increased, sometimes substantially, Next, as Carol Dweck's research clearly indicates, people tend to have one of two mindsets: growth or fixed. The former embraces potentialities, the latter denies them. Henry Ford probably had this in mind when observing, "whether you think you or think you can't, you're probably right.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In full disclosure, I know two of the authors. Having said that, although I know A LOT of authors, I have never been inspired to write an Amazon book review for any of their books...until now. If you like neuroscience and leadership, then you'll really enjoy this book.
Her research strongly suggests the role of the leader in fostering the right environment for innovation and creativity is one of the key ingredients for breeding long-term success for any organization. Not surprisingly, the leaders who displayed a little compassion, some humor, and a non-threatening mangement style, generally fared better than those who managed through intimidation; they understand that employee engagement produces the desired results, while low morale generally results in high employee turnover and diminished productivity.
Most importantly, Van Hecke provides the pragmatic strategies leaders can implement by understanding the elements that go into our decision making processes, and by forcing ourselves to ask some simple, yet tough questions about how organizations operate, and "what if" we changed our approaches in many areas. The answers may surprise many of us on what we thought were "tried and true" systems turned out to be "tired and worn out"; it just took a little closer look to reveal their inherent weaknesses.
This is great work and would greatly enhance any leader's effectiveness in running their organization; that's a real no-brainer.
At this point, three key points need to be stressed. Contrary to what many people believe, the capabilities of the human brain can be developed over time. That is, "intellectual firepower" can increased, sometimes substantially, Next, as Carol Dweck's research clearly indicates, people tend to have one of two mindsets: growth or fixed. The former embraces potentialities, the latter denies them. Henry Ford probably had this in mind when observing, "whether you think you or think you can't, you're probably right." Third and finally, one of a business leader's most important responsibilities is to help create a workplace culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive. If a workplace is viewed as a "garden," then leaders must function as competent and caring "gardeners."
Of greatest interest and value to me is what the co-authors have to share when addressing themes, subjects, and challenges such as these, with each preceded by "How and why":
o Constraints help to free up an executive's mind
o Everyone involved in the given enterprise (especially leaders) need to ask "What is the most efficient way to....?"
o It is imperative to "connect the right dots" and continuously add to their number
o Learning can take a great deal of time and un-learning will extend the length of that process
o There must be enduring trust between and among people involved in the given enterprise
o Being "authentic" does not preclude self-improvement (e.g. becoming a better listener)
o We cannot control most of what happens to us but we can control how we respond to it
o It is imperative to encourage and appreciate, indeed demand principled dissent
o Being right and thinking we are right are always the same ("Believe but verify")
o The "halo effect" is usually a perception, not a reality
o What we see and believe is often what we expect to see and prefer to believe
o Sequential tasking is usually much more productive than multitasking
o Selective memory is usually insufficient and often unreliable, if not false
o Deep and deliberate practice under expert supervision is the best way to strengthen cognitive skills
No list such as this nor commentary on the specifics of each could possibly do full justice to the scope and depth of coverage in the book, much less to the quality of information, insights, and counsel that Madeleine Van Heck, Lisa Callahan, Brad Kolar, and Ken Paller provide in abundance. However, I hope I have indicated why I hold their book in such high regard.
I agree with Ken Paller who, in the Afterword, stresses the importance of integrity when taking into full account the relevance of neuroscience to leadership. "Integrity and compassion for others should be Job Number One. Hopefully a neuroscientific understanding of the human mind [in terms of perception, memory, decision making, and all other aspects of human behavior] will ultimately shed further light on why these principles are so important." Obviously, all organizations, whatever their size and nature may be, need effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of their operations. The development of such leadership should be guided and informed by those principles. That is even more important now because more recent research in neuroscience has generated and abundance of additional insights and revelations since this book was published in 2010.
It is a very good read. The research they cite is very interesting and the suggestions and recommendations are very good. As an executive coach with a background in research, I particularly appreciate their unwillingness to make direct connections between specific neurological research findings and specific leadership behaviors. E.G., instead of saying "This [experimental finding] means a leader should..." they will say something like, "This [experimental finding] reminds leaders that..." followed by a best practice in leadership that makes good sense.
There is also an "afterward" chapter--that I strongly suspect was written by the neuroscientist--that further clarifies this caution--I imagine to protect their collective professional butts from the practicing neuroscientists who would otherwise chastise them for drawing practical implications of the research that, while being sound advice on leadership, go way beyond the data. Not all authors in this area are so careful.
It also has a very good bibliography.