How Can Neuroscience Help Develop More Effective Teams in High-Stress Environments?

How Can Neuroscience Help Develop More Effective Teams in High-Stress Environments

Particularly challenging environments that bring together people with limited experience and/or high stakes can make leadership difficult.
Hospitals, extensive police investigations, and government committees are all examples of high-stress environments. People are often expected to work together in a short time span. High-risk situations (such as death or life in the case of clinical work) can be encountered, which may result in a limited amount of preparation time and multiple teams working on the same problem.

It can be challenging to create an environment that encourages effective collaboration, even when individuals are skilled and intelligent.

Neuroscience and leadership research

Neuroscience and its insights into team behavior are one of the most critical areas of leadership research. It can be combined with modern management thinking to provide a shared language’ that addresses the needs of teams who are expected to perform at their peak. The consequences of failing to do so can be very severe.

Many of these insights were tested in low-risk environments and provide a solid foundation for creating effective frameworks.

Leadership consultancy can be challenging because it seems like every twelve months, another theory is coming along that claims everything was wrong. This is counterintuitive, as there must have been valid and valuable ideas in all the methodologies that preceded.

We find that they all share some commonalities if we look at them. Neuroscience has identified six social cognitive needs that can be used by all teams to improve their effectiveness when leading them.

They are based upon the needs of the brain and offer a new way to see the knowledge and skills groups possess.

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Their cognitive and social needs.’

These are the needs

Relatedness – The need to be part of a cohesive, fair, and safe group.
Expression is the ability to express your emotions.
Leadership – The need to be a leader and feel successful.
Interpersonal connection is the feeling of being understood and connected to others.
Seeing the facts is the ability to measure and evaluate progress.
Hope for the Future – The need to feel hopeful and be able to make a difference in the future.
These six needs will help us see the common ground between different perspectives of the world. We can identify common ground among people in high-paced corporate environments and those working in public service environments instead of creating conflict.

In the last decade, there has been a shift away from the idea of the “heroic” leader in many work environments. The “heroic lead” is now seen as someone who is able to get their team fired. This is evident in companies like Apple and Google that value teamwork more than technical knowledge.

These organizations already recognize that we all have a social brain. Leaders need to embrace this trait when forming the teams of tomorrow.


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