Posts Tagged ‘modelling’
The field of leadership has invested in services and skill building areas such as mentoring, coaching, team building, role modelling, and didactic exercises to enable people to repeat and paraphrase conversations in order to replicate significant information or actions in the hopes of understanding others. The business world uses these various services and skill sets to further enhance skill development, relationship building, doing things the “right” way, and being effective communicators. This entire suite of services and training rely on the support of the brain’s mirror neuron system in order to work effectively.
Mirror neurons are important for understanding the actions of other people, and for learning new skills by imitation. Recent research published in Spring 2010, confirmed the presence of mirror neurons in the human brain.
The brain’s mirror neuron system plays a critical role for effective leadership as it provides people with the blueprint to follow desired norms or preferred behavior within their organizations. The body language, the method of speaking, the norms on dress and time management, the implied expectation to work 10 or 12 hours a day all fall under “follow the leader” in modeling key norms for an organization. Key norms are further observed and demonstrated through the healthy activity of the brain’s mirror neuron systems in people throughout the organization.
Whenever there is power in the room in the form of leadership at any level, people pay attention. Every action and behavior is noticed and assessed. It is then replicated, because the “leader” did it, it must be okay! Cultural norms are demonstrated and mimicked to set direction in organizations. The mirror neuron systems in the people that make up an organization serve to propagate observed behavior.
When leaders communicate, there may be a specific style they use in one-on-one dialogue or when addressing an all-hands meeting to share information. What people throughout the organization notice is whether or not the leader is a great speaker and demonstrates phenomenal skills in articulating the direction of the business. The very act of observing the speaker helps the audience capture the actions in the mirror neuron system. Then they associate the message with the behaviors demonstrated while standing in front of the group. As other leaders who’ve observed the speaker move to the front of the room located in other areas of the business, their mirror neuron systems replicate the demonstrated and desired skills seen from the original speaker. This will spread throughout the organization like a ripple in a pond. Mimicking the observed behavior in lower level staff meetings may strengthen communication skills.
You can take that scenario and apply it to facilitating an important stakeholder meeting or delivering a performance appraisal. Any professional skills that leaders use as part of doing the work or working on the business, are subject to activating the mirror neuron system and influencing the business. Leaders have to be accountable for their actions, as they will influence anyone and everyone by their highly visible actions.
Leadership modeling exemplary behavior in the organization, or on the flip side, unethical behavior will set a standard for which the mirror neurons will follow. Poor behavior is often tagged with the phrase, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, really isn’t true! What happens in Vegas will be replicated in the brain’s mirror neuron system by everyone who observed it and or participated in it! In the same vein, what happens in the conference room, good or bad, doesn’t only stay in the conference room! The mirror neuron system replicators are watching! Therefore, the behavior will show up somewhere in the organization, somehow when you least expect it!