Neuroleadership View of Insight

Following on from my post on the talk by Prof Ernst Poppel, I was directed by Richard Hames through my Facebook site to look at some of the recent work of Jeff Schwartz and David Rock on the neuroscience of leadership.  I found this other link and it looks very interesting – haven’t read the document as yet.  I particularly like this point about the neuroscience view of insight – one of the important 6 i’s of seeing knowledge. The key with insight is that it occurs after a period of calm often when we are doing something else (being around water helps for its soothing properties) and it unleashes enormous energy. The quote is below.

MM    From time to time, there is that moment when we “get it.” There’s a breakthrough or a flash of insight. It’s a moment when we experience a leap in learning. What can neuroleadership tell us about what is happening?

DR      There are some great studies now on insight. We know that insight occurs when the brain goes quiet for a moment. We know that insight is a very important moment in the brain; it packs an energetic punch, and represents possible long term changes in circuitry. Often we get an insight moment at surprising times, when we’re doing other things. That’s because the part of the brain we use actively, can drown out the signals from the rest of the brain. We know that anxiety decreases the likelihood of insight, and happiness and positive affect generally increases the chance of insight.

MM    How would this affect how we work with or teach others?

DR      In so many ways! For example when we start to value insight as the moment at the heart of change, we start to create ways of facilitating it. The great thing about the energy of insight, which is partly adrenaline, is that it drives people to take action. Insight engages people, it makes people get up out of their chairs literally, and want to drive change. This is one important lesson from the science: insight is not helpful to long-term change, it’s central to long-term change. But each person needs to have his or her own insight, not just to listen to the leader’s insight.


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