ASTD Meeting Summary: BrainBased Leadership

Meeting Date March 5th, 2013
SIG Human Capital/Workforce Development SIG
Topic Brain Based Leadership
Guest Speaker Carla Street
THD Attendees Imani Mance

Presentation Summary

ASTD hosted Carla Street who delivered a presentation on Brain Based Leadership. Brained Based Leadership is an approach to professional development that takes into account current understandings of brain function and incorporates it into leadership development. Brain based leadership goes beyond what can be seen or observed to examine exactly how the brain operates in effort to help individuals optimize performance.  Street’s Brain-based Operations for Leadership Development (BOLD) framework leverages cutting-edge neuroscience to improve thinking, well-being, and performance. The BOLD framework is based on the Brain 1- 2-4 model, which suggests that our brains have one core organization principle, two modes of function, and four key process–represented by the numbers 1, 2, and 4.  Dr. Evian Gordon explains the principle in this video:  Brain 1-2-4  Model – Core Organizing Principle.

In her presentation, Street asserted that understanding and using the 1-2-4 brain model to guide the development of work environments, company culture, and performance improvement initiations yields highly effective results. Street also asserted that brain function influences an individual’s performance at work, and his/her ability to collaborate in teams and build positive relationships.  To explore this concept further, Street led a group case study activity and discussion on how our working environments can support optimal brain function.  Some key outcomes of the discussion were

  1. Our brains are negatively biased based on our brain’s need to minimize danger or threats and to maximize rewards. Essentially in every situation, our brains are always looking for “what could go wrong” so that they can address any potential for danger.  If people don’t feel safe in a relationship or in a group/team – they are going to interact in a manner that is “Self Protective” rather than be open and attuned to building the quality of the relationship(s) and developing trust.  Therefore, to create “safe” work spaces, a brain based organization should create an open and honest atmosphere that provides five times more positive solutions based feedback than negative feedback.
  2. The brain interprets any change as a threat and thus prefers patterns and consistency. Although organizations cannot eliminate change, they can put processes in place to manage change in a way that reduces the threats that the brain will perceive.  For example, before a major change, an organization could provide individuals with brain training tools that will help them manage their emotions and feelings during the change process in a productive manner. This practice will ideally reduce resistance to change and help create champions of change within the organization.
  3. The brain has automatic reactions to cues, which are non-verbal input such as a facial expression. In the workplace, it is important that we not only monitor our own cues – facial expressions, body language, and tone of our voice, it is also important that we accurately interpret cues from our colleagues. This ensures effective communication which helps in creating “safe” workspaces and productive organizations.

About the Presenter

Carla, President of ROI, is an accomplished brain-based coach and leadership consultant with 25 years of experience, in four national markets and six countries, facilitating optimal performance for individuals and teams.  Following 15 years as a marketing and public relations executive, Carla Street founded ROI Consulting.  She chose the name to signify her dedication to a “return on investment” (ROI) for her clients. She gradually transitioned her business from a marketing focus to professional coaching as she obtained her professional coaching credential through the International Coach Federation. Carla is also Sr. Partner of the Academy for Brain-based Leadership (ABL).  ABL offers scientifically validated, brain-based leadership programs for future-oriented mid- to large-size organizations interested in optimizing performance, relationships and health.

References and Resources

Brain 1-2-4  Model – Core Organizing Principle

Know and Train Your Brain

Building Quality Relationships

Boosting Your Emotional Awareness

Boost Your Focus


My Brain Solutions