Written By: Kari Mirabal

The Language of Leadership

Great leadership requires great communication.  However, great communication can be tricky for leaders due to the complexity of the human brain and how it processes information.  Our brains are made up of three parts; instinctive, emotional and logical – each with its own way of perceiving data.  If great leaders can learn how to improve communication by understanding which parts of the brain control what, how can they leverage this information to improve workplace productivity and morale?

How Our Brains Work

In the book Winning Minds, author Simon Lancaster shares more information about the three complex parts of the brain and how humans process information.  Lancaster encourages leaders to explore more information about how these parts work together and how to use this information to help inspire others in your workplace.

Instinctive Brain:
Developed around five million years ago, regulates unconscious processes like breathing and the circulatory system.  It scans the environment for potential danger and efficiently makes snap judgments about whether a stranger is a threat or not.

Emotional Brain:
Secretes chemicals that promote self-confidence, love or fear. When such emotions are in play, people act with enthusiasm and passion.

Logical Brain:
The largest and newest part of the brain that judges the soundness of information and ideas. It is capable of great discernment, but has trouble distinguishing logical ideas from those that only appear logical.

Why Some Leaders Stumble

Some leaders stumble when they attempt to persuade because they speak only to one part of the brain (like exclusively using logical arguments in an attempt to win others over).  To engage others, start by appealing to the instinctive brain first.  Lancaster suggests speaking its language and focusing on its primary concerns – “safety and rewards.” When leaders demonstrate an ability to be empathetic towards employee concerns, they ease safety concerns proactively which can be the first step towards persuasion.

Next time you address a difficult situation in the workplace, consider applying this knowledge to help you determine what your employees need first to be able to process the information you are about to deliver.  Whether it’s safety, connection or self-esteem, when you provide for an employees’ needs, you will have a better chance of winning their support.

Written By: Kari Mirabal