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Right Brain, Left Brain: Which Side Do Leaders Need Most?


The left brain is analytical, the right brain is creative, or so say many psychologists. In the past, good leaders used left brain skills more. Today, however, there is more need for right brain qualities in business. Perhaps we need a “whole brain” approach.

(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

In general, the left side of the brain is the rational and anaylitical side. We need to use this side for solving complex problems and analyzing mathematical equations. Our left brain is realistic.

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The right brain, on the other hand (or other brain,) is the emotional and senstive side. The right side houses our emotional intelligence. It would seem, at first blush, that great business leaders rely more on the left side of the brain. This is not necessarily true.

The Changing Face of Business

Lynn White and Esther Newall write in The Guardian that younger people are embracing an entrepreneurialism that shuns big organizations. The old ways are being replaced as people choose to work in partnerships or small alliances that sometimes hire outsourced staff members. There is a greater focus on social responsibility today than just a few decades ago. The traditional hierarchical structures are slowly disappearing. And as business changes, so must successful leaders and leadership.

The Whole Brain Approach

Today’s leaders need to appeal to people’s sense of ethics and emotional intelligence. There is focus on creating a corporate culture that appeals to workers, and including awareness of worker needs for work-life balance.

A good leader must still think rationally and make sound financial decisions, but that same leader must be emotionally intelligent when interacting with workers as well as with the general public. A good leader today is likely much more concerned with social responsibility than in his father’s day.

Leaders today must be multiskilled and use both sides of their brains equally well.

Tell Us What You Think

What do you think is the most important quality in a good leader? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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