How do you feel about the topic of the left brain-right brain and its benefit to the performance of leaders and teams? Here is why I am asking. It seems to me that this extremely effective concept, that has enhanced the performance of leaders and teams around the world, is seriously misunderstood. Some leaders believe that it is a psychological concept; others believe that it is too soft and fluffy; and others have called it esoteric.
It is none of these things. It is actually a physiological concept based on the fact that the two sides of our brain think in different ways. This is the good news because when we combine the information from both sides, we will make great decisions that include fact and figures, intuition and creativity. The less good news is that the vast majority of us have a biological preference for the one side over the other. This means we will hear only what we want to hear and will make decisions that do not include all the critical information. It is not that we cannot use both of pour brains but simply that we do not enjoy the way one of our brains functions.
You’ve seen this in your own lives I am sure. Perhaps you are married to someone who has the opposite preference to you. For example, you may prefer to think with your left brain and your wife thinks with the right brain. You could be looking at the exact same thing and be seeing something different!
Oh No! Not that Topic Again!
So even if we don’t use this terminology of left brain and right brain which seems to put some business people off, we cannot avoid the fact that every one of us has a preferred way of thinking. That is why executive and management teams should consist of people with different thinking abilities – those who think visually, intuitively and creatively and those who are detail-oriented, logical and rational. (Dare I say, left brainers and right brainers?) The visualizers can help others see the corporate vision and the detail people can plan the roadmap to get there.
Sounds so basic doesn’t it? But human nature is such a strange thing. Left brain people enjoy interacting with left brain people. And right brain people enjoy other right brain people. They say things like, ‘we really understand each other; it’s so easy to talk to him; she really gets me.’ And before we know it we have recruited people who think exactly like we do. Bad idea! If someone really irritates you, ask yourself why and you will discover it’s because they think differently to the way you do and then remind yourself that you need them on your team. And you need them in your life.
Use the chart below to discover if you are left brain or right brain oriented. Then find someone close to you who is the opposite and build a strong relationship with them. Together you will communicate in whole brain ways, explore all possible aspects of your challenges and make great things happen. Separately you will be functioning in a half-brained way.
Left Brain Characteristics
I get to know people through shring facts
Focus on facts and solutions
Pragmatic and cautious
Perform tasks in a proven and accepted way
Like to know exactly what is expected of me
Prefer a clear step-by-step process
Tend to overlook giving recognition to others
Need many facts before arriving at a decision and acting
Believe caring and showing empathetic people are too soft in business
Solve problems by focusing on the way the task is being implemented
Right Brain Characteristics
I get to know people through sharing feelings
Focus on feelings and the bigger picture
Creative and open to taking risks
Look for a new and original way of doing things
Like to be constantly surprised and challenged
Prefer to experiment as I go along
Give recognition easily and spontaneously
Action orientated, quick and spontaneous in arriving at a decision
Believe analytic and logical people are cold and uncaring
Solve problems by focusing on relationships and teamwork
Based on the above questions, do you think this fits your presetnleadership style? What changes would you make?
To learn more about using the Whole Brain in leadership please contact me.