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Deborah Ancona and the two became fast friends and colleagues. What's especially interesting about their collaboration is that Ancona is a psychologist by training, and the complementarity of behavioral science and neuroscience is an exciting area of exploration for Ancona and Swart alike.
I caught up with Ancona and Swart recently to hear their thoughts on the subject. For Ancona, neuroscience brings biological proof to what has been known to psychologists for a long time.
She is excited about finding ways that will help people to become better leaders. While some of these habitual modes of operating may be quite beneficial, some are not," she pointed out. She used the example of risk-taking behavior to illustrate her point.
However, the work of Rebecca Saxe at MIT shows that this may be due to group members actually bypassing that part of their brains that are responsible for moral reasoning. It stands to reason that a deeper understanding of our collective brains can be of great service to business leaders, managers, and employees.
If we have better insights into why we make decisions the way we do, we can course-correct ourselves or react to the decisions of others more effectively. Swart sees a co-evolution of the two areas of research, "I think that psychology and the physiology of neuroscience will become more correlated going forward.
By Andrew Curry
They are on a spectrum under the umbrella of cognitive sciences, and the advent of brain scanning has put depth and data behind the psychology that has informed business and leadership for decades. Of course, a biological basis for human behavior is not a new concept, only now we have more clarity on the biological processes that influence and govern our actions.
There has been a revolution in what we know about how the brain works. Swart believes that we need to recognize our entire being as an interconnected system--brain, body, and mind. Swart places great emphasis on work-life balance, proper sleep and nutrition, and keeping the body healthy so the mind stays sharp.
Looking forward, she sees neuroscience as not only a way of explaining our behavior and decision-making, but also a means of augmenting our physiological reality. The two-day course provides hands-on application of concepts and techniques derived from brain research and psychology that can improve individual leadership performance, as well as that of teams and organizations. Introduced last year, the program quickly became popular with executives eager to put the latest neuroscience insights to work for the good of their organizations.
True to the instructors' holistic approach to the brain-body-mind system, the program schedule includes an early-morning yoga session and nutritious meals with plenty of vegetarian options. In this new course, designed to help leaders motivate and inspire their peers and teams in ways that catalyze innovation and increase business success, Swart focuses on helping participants to develop the neuroscience-based coaching skills that have proven effective in her own executive coaching practice, The Unlimited Mind.
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