By Randy Sabourin

I often find myself in the situation of giving professional advice about whom in a group of ‘up and coming’ professionals will be a good leader.  I coach executives in large and small organizations in a variety of market places and there seems to be one critical common denominator among these leaders; the more self-aware they are about their strengths and weaknesses the more successful they are. A small caveat to that statement- they are not only self-aware but are willing to do something with their self-knowledge.

Being self-aware is a little more difficult than introducing yourself to your self in the mirror or reading (and dismissing) your latest 360 evaluation. Understanding yourself is a complex and ongoing process, one you need to be dedicated to in order to see results. I recently tried an app that tracks the calories you take in at every meal. I’ve never been a dieter but I found the process very interesting because I became aware of what I was eating, when and what my caloric intake was. Based on that information I started making decisions about what or how much I would eat, I became aware of what I was eating. As the experience continued I recorded the details of each meal less and less, I felt I had gained an understanding and didn’t need the feedback any longer. Sure enough the success I had gained by being aware faded and I was back to the same eating habits. I started using the app again and I was back in the groove, reaching my goals, staying aware, and receiving positive reinforcement.  The same awareness and feedback cycle is needed in order to increase your leadership self-awareness.

Leadership self-awareness is based on understanding your behavioral preferences, particularly when you are under stress.  Anyone can manage his or her behavior in a calm situation; managing behavior under pressure is much harder.  Performance in the moment- under pressure- is often the difference between success and failure.  Without self-awareness we react to stressful situations consistent with our core behavioral preferences. Behavioral preferences rarely change over time; they are neural pathways created over time and are a combination of nature and nurture that are usually set in our early 20’s. If changing them is near impossible then our objective is to manage them along with the stress that exposes them.

Where to start? Read the rest of this entry »

Are you right (creative) or left (logical) brained? The correct answer to the question is “both.”  Right brain/left brain has been a common, yet misleading, way to label people based on 60s split-brain research. Follow the link below to a video in which Iain McGilchrist, psychiatrist and writer, debunks this belief and reveals a clear picture of how the two sides of the brain really work.    The Divided Brain.

Click the brain to enjoy the video


By Cameron O. Anderson

Investors and Advisors alike have come to accept the efficient market school theory that maintains that market activity is based on people making rational economic choices. But the reality is that people act on their emotions constantly and often unconsciously. We become overconfident or fearful, “irrationally exuberant” or regretful.  Our herd mentality often takes over while we perceive and frame our investing options in unusual ways.  But why? Neurofinance seeks to answer this question.

Neurofinance combines psychology, economics, and neuroscience, to study how people make investment decisions. The goals of neurofinance are to identify the psychological inputs that impact trading behavior and then connect these traits to trading success or failure. It also looks to develop the training methods to improve performance and lower risk.

There are certain behaviors that hold potential implications for investors. The following is an overview of common behaviors demonstrated by both investor and advisor:

  • Overconfidence and Hubris. Individuals generally assume they know more than they actually do. They also tend to remember previous financial decisions in ways that exaggerate their own foresight. This can lead to overly aggressive decisions and a reluctance to admit—and correct—mistakes. The “illusion of control” and “how great gains change the brain” are common themes explored in the field. Effective questioning techniques of investors and/or advisors help to uncover and correct this investment behavior. Read the rest of this entry »

by Marina Willats

Master Multi-Tasking

There was a time when being stuck in traffic was a source of great frustration. Now it is an opportunity – you can sip your latte while you make some calls, check your email on your blackberry, and listen to the latest headline news. Sound familiar. If so, you probably consider yourself a master multi-tasker. It’s a point of pride for many. Why do just two or three things at once when you can do four or five? In fact, isn’t that what digital devices are for – to lighten our load by allowing us to accomplish more in less time. Yet this is rarely how it plays out. Instead the ability to connect and communicate instantly has led to highly disruptive work environments and low productivity.

The Myth of Multi-tasking

It has been proven that no one can effectively do two things at once. Just try listening to two people on either side of you tell you a story. Read the rest of this entry »

The Challenge                                                                                        (download the pdf)

An established Executive Team of twelve including two new members was struggling to reach agreement on several major strategic initiatives.  The decision making process was being negatively affected by interpersonal communication styles and political agendas. Due to diverse interests and personalities, major strategic projects were being stalled. The situation was affecting the performance of the Executive Team, was poor role modeling for the rest of the organization and increased the costs associated with the stalled projects. The organization was engaged in several significant change projects and the inability of the Executive Team to “pull the trigger” would affect other projects and company confidence.

The Client

ASCI was appointed by the CEO of a large multi-national insurance company to work with the Executive Team. The team consisted of the CEO, CIO, CFO, Executive VPs from regional areas and market segments, Legal Consul, and the Chief Commercial Officer. Behavioral analysis (TAIS) of the team revealed that the dominant attentional style was Analytical/Conceptual combined with a relatively slow decision making preference and a very low propensity to risk. Read the rest of this entry »

by Randy Sabourin
Over the years both Cam and I have contributed our time and resources to several worthy charities. When we talk about Fairness as a team building attribute in our Team Dynamics Workshops, the subject of philanthropy often comes up. Research on why we volunteer our time to charities can be linked to our sense of fairness and desire to balance the scales. Others who are less fortunate, experiencing social injustice or suffering from a disease need our help. We feel better when we show compassion and help others. Matthieu Ricard has been dubbed the happiest man in the world. In his TED Talk Chade-Meng Tan from Google explains that Ricard’s happiness was measured with an fMRI and that it was the highest ever recorded. Ricard states that he was meditating on compassion at the time. Read the rest of this entry »

By Randy Sabourn

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.” John Burroughs

A simple and obvious statement: successful people get things done. However, there are millions of great intentions that never turn into action – think back to your New Year’s resolutions or the last time you committed to getting your work/life balance back to a state of equilibrium. In the business environment, especially in sales, intentions without execution can be a problem. Missed revenue opportunities are the bane of every sales professional and manager. Keeping track of appointments, tasks from meetings, following up on future calls, and recording data for team selling are a few of the important tasks that can suffer when intentions are not put into action. Corporations are intention-generating machines and the challenge faced from CEO to salesperson is the same: to track, prioritize and execute intentions.

There are three primary stages to the process of converting intention to action: creation, storage and execution. When first the thought or idea germinates, it is an intention stored in short term memory. Next we transfer and store the intention either in long memory or an external system. Finally we retrieve the intention and execute. Some intentions are instantly converted to action while others are stored for later recall.

Read the rest of this entry »

By Randy Sabourin

Leading change is one of the most difficult tasks faced by every level in an organization. Traditional ‘carrot & stick’ and humanism behaviour motivation is being replaced by a ‘brain based’ neuropsychology approach. Discussion and research continues on why we resist change and the often predictably irrational opposition seen when an organization adopts new strategies or systems. The placebo effect is a powerful phenomenon that may be an additional tool to assist us in realizing our change objectives.

The placebo effect has been a well documented phenomenon in the medical and scientific community for several decades. It can be defined as “the physiological or psychological response to an inert substance or procedure”. For quite some time, it has been observed that administering a remedy with no medical value (a sugar pill) can have positive results because the patient ‘assumes’ they feel the effect of the drug they believe they are taking. Although employed as a “commonplace method or medicine” as early as the 18th century, it was first brought into modern medicine context by an army nurse during the Second World War who lied about administering pain-killers to wounded soldiers. Read the rest of this entry »

The first meeting of the NeuroLeadership Toronto Local Interest Group was held last week at Aon Canada. There were approximately 20 interested business leaders present that participated in a robust conversation about the SCARF Model. The presentation is available here and to keep informed please join our Linked In Group here.

Thank you to everyone who came, the next session will be on June 9th and will be a discussion about NeuroFinance.

by Randy Sabourin

I had a very interesting meeting with a former colleague last week that shown some light on a perplexing issue.  Phil and I had worked together 15 years ago in the semiconductor industry.  I was working on an Electronics Degree and Phil, an Electronic Engineer, was kind enough to help me understand some of the more complex math problems.  I have always remembered Phil’s kindness so when he reached out a few weeks back to catch up I met with him.

It turns out we are in the same business again: Leadership Consulting and Coaching.  After reminiscing for a while we returned to the present.

You will have seen on this blog, in our newsletter, and certainly in our workshops, discussions on the dynamics of human behaviour. As members of the NeuroLeadership Institute we are fascinated with how we might guide our clients through leadership, hiring and coaching situations through the power and potential of the human mind. Preferring the scientific approach to question of the boundaries and potential in the context of leadership we use a highly reliable psychometric tool (TAIS) and follow the latest research. The cutting edge of that research is often the most interesting to observe: that edge is also where the charlatans, whether well or ill intentioned, are found in abundance. Their presence while helping to push the frontier, simultaneously slows down progress by reducing credibility with unfounded claims and exaggerations. Lacking the credentials or research background to judge, I view our role as taking what we can to add value to our client engagements. Read the rest of this entry »


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