Neuroscience for Leadership and Management

This course examines the latest neuroscience research and how it relates to the modern workplace. It uses experimental exercises, and the 'My Brain Solutions Leadership Assessment (MBSLA)' brain-based diagnostic tool.

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Recent research insights from the emerging field of social cognitive neuroscience provide valuable lessons on a practical level for modern managers and leaders. For example, much of our traditional understanding about executive decision making has been brought into question. We now recognize the importance of emotional content and its salience within the brain’s limbic system. In addition, neuroscientific research demonstrates that historical management practices have overlooked the motivational power of social relationships in the workplace. In short, the human brain is ‘wired to connect’ in a social sense. It is part of our evolutionary heritage and has significant implications for collaboration in the workplace.

The purpose of this programme is to inform managers and leaders of the latest neuroscience research as it specifically relates to the modern workplace. In some cases this will extend to experiential exercises and diagnostic instruments.

Course fee includes a personal “My Brain Solutions Leadership Assessment (MBSLA).” 

Who should attend:

Leaders and managers, from both the public and private sectors, who grapple with the challenges of direct reports, in particular, with respect to: influencing, motivating, communicating, team-work and making effective decisions.

 Learning objectives:

  • Understand how our neurology drives our leadership behaviours and how other people respond to us
  • Avoid common traps that leaders and managers fall into, with unintended results
  • Look at your own brain patterns and preferences through the “My Brain Solutions Leadership Assessment” diagnostic tool and develop your brain through online brain training exercises
  • Increase personal resilience in the workplace and understand stress reduction activities

Course outline: 

Day 1:

  • Brain 101 – Understanding the structure, functions and dynamics of the human brain
    • As a prerequisite to understanding and applying insights from neuroscientific research within the context of the modern workplace, it is first necessary to gain an understanding of the basic structure, functions and dynamics of the human brain. 
    • Introduction to the human brain
    • The structure of the human brain
    • The three master networks
    • Reflexive versus reflective thinking processes
    • The brain at a cellular level – neurons and synaptic connections
    • How the brain learns – neuroplasticity
    • The dynamics of memory – plus and minus
  • Leading Teams – The social brain and implications for collaboration
    • In 2013, ground-breaking research emerging from Matthew Lieberman’s laboratory, at University of California – Los Angeles, revealed that social connection is of paramount important to humans. In fact, social connection is what humans think about subconsciously when they are not in task-thinking mode, it’s called the default mode network. Interesting insights emerge with important implications for team dynamics at work. For example, emotional pain (e.g. embarrassment) manifests in the brain’s circuitry in exactly the same manner as physical pain (e.g. a broken leg). This session will examine social dynamics within the modern workplace through the lens of neuroscience, including:
      • The default mode network
      • Theory of mind
      • The mirror neuron system
      • Emotional intelligence from a neuroscience perspective
      • How and when we work in cognitive harmony
      • Neural propensities that get in the way of team synergy
  • Debrief and preparation for the following day.

 Day 2:

  • Leading Yourself – The healthy brain and sustaining leadership
    • Within the modern work context of complexity, stress, multi-tasking, email and being online 24/7, most managers and leaders are not optimising the natural capacity of their brains. While most managers and leaders will, without question, devote time to physical fitness, mental fitness is taken for granted. The brain is a physiological organ, just like the heart and lungs. While it takes up on average only two percent of body’s weight, it consumes twenty percent of the body’s energy. Creative and innovative production, the key success factor in the modern workplace, draws on significant neural capacity. Modern managers and leaders need to understand how to tap this capacity. This session looks at the biological requirements for creative brain function.
      • The healthy brain platter
      • How to put your brain in a reflective state
      • The challenges of trying to think within the modern work context
      • The neuroscience of stress in the workplace
      • Learning the skill of metacognition
  • Authentic Leadership
    • Modern leadership demands authenticity. In a world full of social networks which pass information (and misinformation) at the speed of light, leaders need to establish authenticity, including personal self-awareness, relational transparency, and an internalised moral perspective. This session provides insights from neuroscience to facilitate the development of authentic leadership.
      • Defining leadership
      • Authentic leadership
      • The importance of self-awareness
      • The neuroscience of trust
      • How to formulate balanced, effective decisions
      • Understanding deliberation versus intuition
      • The neuroscience of self-regulation
      • The neurological basis for morality
  • Final Caveats – The brain as magnificent but flawed
    • Most managers and leaders will have been perplexed at times as to their own behaviour, while the brain is a magnificent, intelligent, self-learning organ, it is also open to exploitation. There are several neurological propensities which served humanity well, but are no longer relevant within the modern workplace. Managers and leaders need to be alert to these propensities, both in their own behaviour and that of their followers. This session will alert managers and leaders to such phenomena, including:
      • How association and priming affect how we view the world
      • Loss aversion
      • Implicit egotism
  • Debrief and wrap-up
  • Action plans and next steps 

Course format:

This programme is highly applied, practical and skills based. It is delivered over two consecutive days.


Paul McDonald and Jenny McDonald

Further details:
If you would like more information about this programme, please contact us on: 
Ph: 64 4 463 6556 Email:

Customised workshops:
Victoria Professional and Executive Development are able to customise many of our workshops to meet specific individual or organisational requirements. Please contact us for further information.

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