Neuroscience, Mindware and Influential Leadership

BrainGuest Post by Rebel Brown

Whether you’re a small business owner or an executive of a large corporation, you are leading humans and their minds. The two are inseparable. Did you know that the words man and mind come from the same Sanskrit root?

The sum of our individual selves is housed within our mindware, the programs we’ve created throughout our life’s learning and experiences. No two humans have the same mindware. Hence no two humans have the same perceptions, thought processes, communication styles, motivational responses or behaviors.

Understanding individual human mindware is the key to next generation leadership.

Whether we’re making a decision about our strategy, designing a new product promotion, selling to a new prospect or solving a problem for a customer, our own unique mindware drives our decisions, behaviors and beliefs.

Thanks to neuroscience, leaders can leverage the technology of our minds to harness the power of every individual human mind at work in our teams.

Upside Down and Inside Out

Discoveries in neuroscience are turning traditional beliefs about our human minds, about what drives us to think and behave, upside down and insight out.

For example, over 95% of our decisions and behaviors are determined by our unconscious mindware. In every minute of every day we make decisions and choose our responses based on our automated mindware. Before we’re ever conscious of what is happening.

We are not leading conscious, logical, rational beings.

Leaving Leadership Legacies Behind

The majority of traditional leadership approaches and beliefs are just plain out-of-sync with how we really tick as human beings. They’re based on old science that didn’t truly understand how we humans are programmed.

Neuroscience offers powerful insights for leaders, insights that empower us to lead our teams to their ultimate potential. Yet to do that, we must leave our legacies behind.

Here are three simple yet powerful truths that counter legacies in leadership.

1. Naysayers are driven by their programming. We’ve all had to deal with those mismatchers – the folks who take the opposite side, argue over darned near anything and generally disrupt our teams. Even when you agree with them – they take the opposite side to keep the discussion (aka argument) going. I used to think these folks were just plain negative. Now I know the truth. Their naysaying is driven by a mindware program. They are simply doing what they were programmed to do. That program is a result of their learning and experiences. We can bypass the program when we understand how it works.

 2. Some of us don’t want carrots. We’ve all been taught carrot and stick thinking. Reward or punishment, cookies or the corner. The thing is, we all don’t respond to the same motivation. Some of us are motivated TOWARD a goal (aka a carrot). Some are motivated AWAY from a situation (aka a stick.)  If use a stick with a Toward person, they won’t respond. If you use a carrot with an Away from person, they won’t change a thing. It’s also important to note that the stick approach is high risk in our modern stress-filled world. Sticks trigger the instinctual threat response in our unconscious mind, which sends us into status quo bias. Once that happens, we hunker down into the way we’ve always done it and won’t move. When we understand an individual’s mindware design, we know how to motivate them to deliver.

3. We really don’t see our data. Big data is the buzzword du jour for most businesses. What if I told you we don’t actually see all that data? Here’s the scoop. Our mindware searches for patterns it can automate for efficiency. That includes how we input data from our world. When we create that report format, we quickly imprint it as a known pattern of data. The next time we see the report – we don’t look at the actual data, we recall the pattern we imprinted. Until the data changes enough to create a major shift – we won’t note subtle changes. That’s why we miss new trends or minor changes that portend bigger things to come.

The Bottom Line

The human mind holds the key to breakout performance. As leaders, we can tap into the technology of our minds to motivate and inspire every individual to attain their best possible results.

The keys to influential leadership are all in our minds. I think it’s time we all found them!


The Influential LeaderTo learn how to harness the technology of our minds to create excellence in your organization, read The influential Leader by Rebel Brown. This Pocket Guide to the Human Mind shares key insights for leaders in business and in life. In this Amazon Top 10 download, you’ll learn how to harness the power of your mind, and the minds of your teams, to step into a whole new level of business results.

Note from Jesse: I have enjoyed Rebel Brown’s blog for several years. She offers practical explanations and advice on the application of neuroscience to leadership. In her excellent new book, The Influential Leader, she offers insights into the technology of our minds so leaders can understand and harness the key to breakout performance.

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2 comments to Neuroscience, Mindware and Influential Leadership

  • Thanks for this Jesse!

    I am a major fan of all things “mind”. Siegel, Goleman and Cozolino are particular fave authors in this field. This book looks amazing and I will hunt down Rebel Brown’s blog.

    Have you read The Opposable Mind by Roger Martin? I think that sometimes, in groups, the naysayers are just recognizing that there are other sides. The four player model is one way to manage natural opposers so that their need for balance (or their drive to disrupt) doesn’t become disruptive. Speaking from experience here :-/


  • Thanks for stopping by Jamie and for your excellent reading suggestions!

    As Jesse so aptly notes, neuroscience is now putting the scientific evidence behind philosophies ranging from ancient Tao and Buddhism to modern day Law of Attraction and the Secret. It’s also explaining why those philosophies sometimes don’t work – because our unconscious mindware is in the lead and it’s not just a “snap your fingers” or “focus your conscious mind” exercise to change that programming. The great news is we can learn about and change our programming with neuroscience techniques. Even more importantly, as leaders we can learn to understand and recognize the innate programming in our teams = the meta mindware that drives so many behaviors. And then – we can lead around it.

    One note about naysayers – or mismatchers as I call them. There’s a program running to drive that behavior. So the simplest way I’ve found to stop the naysaying is to stop the program. How? Agree with them. That stops the program. Then ask a question – which triggers their conscious mind to take control. My usual approach is to agree, then ask what suggestions, additonal ideas etc. that they have. Works every time!

    Thanks again for reading and sharing!

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