The NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI) is a leading global research organization and a pioneer of bringing neuroscience to leadership. NLI advocates “using hard science to transform leadership effectiveness.” In my words, they make organizations more powerful. Neuroscience can help you build a powerful team, too.

Listening to Joe Wittinghill, GM Talent, Learning and Insights at Microsoft will give you a glimpse of the organization-wide impact that other companies including Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Disney, Marriott, Prudential, United Technologies, KPMG, and Travelers are seeing as members. These organizations rely on NLI not only to supply great research, but also to apply key findings to create powerful organizations.

They apply research in three key areas to help companies answer important questions:

Performance Management

  • What truly motivates people?
  • What drives better conversations?
  • How does ‘no ratings’ really work?
  • How do we fix feedback?

NLI advocates the importance of focusing on a growth mindset, which emphasizes progress over time as opposed to a fixed mindset, which is primarily/totally focused on a final result. Their research also indicates that intelligence (and power) can be expanded over time and refutes the view that intelligence is static.

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Why are diverse and inclusive organizations smarter?
  • How can we reduce bias?
  • What truly lifts inclusion?
  • How do we hire “the right fit”?

NLI also advocates that bias is natural, normal, and part of the non-conscious. To mitigate bias in decision making, research shows it is important to not only create awareness, but also to label biases when they surface and develop behavioral habits to offset them, particularly given their non-conscious nature. Teams become more powerful with varied behavior.

Leadership and Change

  • What is the science of behavior change?
  • How do we foster a growth mindset in everyone?
  • How do we drive effective learning at scale?
  • How do we fix leadership development?

Finally, NLI advocates fostering a toward/reward state of mind versus an away/threat state – something that is essential to motivating others and creating psychological safety. In other words, the strategy of managing by “FUD” (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) is demotivating and not effective in helping an organization grow.

Truly powerful organizations manage human capital with the same rigor and intensity that they manage financial capital. These organizations understand that the “softer side” of people management is really the “hard stuff” that matters most. Companies that rely on hard science to optimize their human capital will continue to lead the rest.