When it comes to leadership, one of the questions that still gets tossed around is ‘Are leaders born or made?’ Many still believe that leadership is something unattainable and that the learning of certain traits, behaviours or attitudes cannot be done. 

In my experience, after years of seeing people learning, growing and developing, this belief cannot be further from the truth. As our brain changes throughout life, our attitudes and behaviours can also change and these include ‘leadership behaviours’.

Having said this, it is also true that some people are born with innate leadership abilities, in the same way that others are born with an amazing musical gift.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t prevent people who are born without these leadership abilities from growing into someone who can lead a project team, start a business or be an inspiration to others by leading a charity campaign.

In these examples, those who are willing to have a go and not shy away from leadership may realise that they can influence people and achieve an outcome if they are willing to learn and polish the skills they need to do this successfully.

David A. Waldman, a management professor at Arizona State University, has been investigating if leaders have distinctive brains. Using a qEEG machine, Waldman was able to map out the electrical activity of the brains of senior managers and successful entrepreneurs rated as “inspirational” by their employees.

Part of his conclusion was that these leaders showed higher levels of coherence in the right frontal part of the brain – the area that provides us with the social skills we need to interact well with others.

Waldman believes that it is possible to teach this part of the brain to operate more effectively through the use of neuro-feedback training – a well-known technique that has been used to improve autism, depression, ADD and other ailments for several decades now.

Waldman and his team are endeavouring to unravel how this technique can be implemented to assist the average person to hone in on his or her leadership abilities by enhancing their brain functioning.

Excerpt from book “Leadership is Upside Down”
Originally posted on: 5 June 2014
Last updated on: 18 February 2024
Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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