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The Neuroscience of Engagement: David Rock's Free Webinar
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When: 11/16/2010
4:00 PM
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The Neuroscience of Engagement: David Rock's Free Webinar

Nov 16 2010
4-5 PM Eastern Time

To Lead Well, Rest, Reflect and Don't Hijack Anyone's Amygdala

We don't know how to get better leaders, David Rock asserts, even though more than 60,000 books on leadership have been published.

Social issues are more important to brain function than we have generally realized, says Rock, an author and researcher who coined the term "neuroleadership” and co-founded the NeuroLeadership Institute. He reports studies have shown that social pain and physical pain activate the same brain areas, and that social pain was actually decreased more by Tylenol than by a placebo. Further, he says, threats are stronger than rewards and longer lasting. If we can't decide whether something is good or bad, we decide its very bad. He says that's because the brain is a prediction machine, and uncertainty is a threat.

Neuroscience teaches us that threats shut down creativity and close us to learning. They deplete resources available to our prefrontal cortex, where thought happens. So if you want to be a change agent, avoid making people feel threatened.

Rock, used humor and drama while addressing the Organizational Development Conference 2010 in New Orleans. He displayed a vintage ad trumpeting that "More Doctors Smoke Camels,” and another showing a healthy baby along with text that urges parents to "Start Cola earlier.” These notions make us squeamish now because science has proven them foolish, he says, but years from now people will make the same discoveries about today's leadership: "They'll look back at us and say did that actually do that to people?”

He calls neuroleadership the neuroscicence of making decisions, solving problems, staying cool under pressure, collaborating with others and facilitating change. He says "the elephant in the room” is what happens to people in organizations: as they move up, their need for technical skills decreases, and their need for self-awareness and social skill goes up. The capacity for reflective thinking and insights also drops as people move up, he says, and creativity-killing anxiety and tensions often start at the top. "The good news, " he adds, "is that it's not your fault. It's the nature of the beast.”

The David Rock free webinar on the "neuroscience of engagement” will be held from 4-5 PM ET Nov. 16 Rock is to facilitate, and registration is at

Rock developed the SCARF model: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fair ness, the things that can make us feel very rewarded or very threatened. If a situation dictates that threats in one domain are inevitable, rewards in another domain can sometimes offset the negative impact.

Another leadership trait we misinterpret, says Rock, involves creativity and insight. Intensity, focus, and trying hard to solve a problem actually inhibit insights. As Rock explains it, when we have insight, our brains actually change. When we solve problems in a linear way, they don't. Insight requires reflection and quiet. Any thought contains millions of strands, he says, but insights are quiet signals, connections among small numbers of neurons. Insights happen often, he says, but we don't notice them amidst the electrical activity of anxiety and stress. That's why people often have "aha” moments in the shower or upon waking and other unexpected times.

Perhaps, Rock suggests, we will some day make breakthroughs in the way we relate to one another that are as profound as the breakthroughs we have made in technology. Rock is the author of Your Brain at Work, he blogs for PsychologyToday, and wrote "Managing with the Brain in Mind” for the journal Strategy + Business.

Links to David Rock's work are in attached document. /resource/resmgr/docs/david_rock_at_odn.doc

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