Stop Telling People What to Do

We finally have solid evidence about the problem with telling people what to do. A research project in 2009 reveals brain activity – actually, a lack of brain activity – when we are being told what to do.

Here’s the research in a nutshell. When someone is telling us what to do or giving us advice, our brain actually goes into neutral. The advice being given doesn’t embed in our neocortex. The result is that we are not fully engaged at the moment. We have shifted into a passive mode. [Jan B. Engelmann, C. Monica Capra, Charles Noussair and Gregory S. Berns, The Relationship between Financial Advice and Decision-Making, 2009]

When we offer space and invite others to come up with their own answers, the activity of the neocortex is quite different.

The question for today’s leader is what kind of engagement do you want? Neutral Engagement or Full Engagement?

In my opinion, we do a major disservice to people when our primary leadership mode is Telling. This is why I am committed to a global vision of Every Leader a Coach! Part of our leadership responsibility is to advocate full engagement.

This research is more than a case for coaching, it’s a request of all leaders to learn how to engage others.

All the best to you,

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