In Part 1 of this post, we discussed the brain, the latest scientific understanding of hemisphericity ( the functional neurology that describes the firing rates within and between the two hemispheres), and how experts are applying those findings to enhance our understanding of our own styles of learning and leading. Here, we’ll apply them to workplace management and leadership.
Fundamentally, right-handed men tend to have an abundance of electrical activity in the left hemisphere of their brain. They think in a more focused way, prefer to give their attention to one thing at a time, and tune out external stimuli. Women, whether they are left-handed or right-handed, tend to have an abundance of electrical activity in both the left and right hemispheres. They are able to concentrate on a single task and simultaneously absorb the larger context around them using both hemispheres.
During conversations with colleagues or friends, it became apparent that women consider all factors influencing a perspective, while men bring into focus fewer considerations but reach decisions faster.
Full brain engagement can come about when both hemispheres can be used by both genders. That brings about a workplace where leaders are third-way leaders. It is not a masculine workplace, nor a feminine workplace. It is a third-way workplace where the best of both hemispheres is used by each gender: left-brain management capturing the values of information, logic, quantitative analysis, technical, tactical and logistical input to improve the performance in operations; and right-brain leadership that helps leaders be more adaptive, relational, collaborative, participative, qualitative, inclusive, communicative and non-coercive.
Leading in a third-way workplace described above will create an environment where there are many ways to learn, not just in a left-brain, linear way. Learning capacity that uses full brain engagement becomes essential for managers and leaders.
This is a learned skill, albeit harder to learn in adulthood, but for the women and men who become mindfully aware that they can use both hemispheres by attending to the skills of each, it will improve the impact of their leadership.
Editor’s Note: Read the first part of “Increase Learning Potential by Engaging Your Fill Brain.” Peter Dean is author of The Coachable Leader, which is designed as a feedback resource for executives and includes more about full brain engagement workplaces.