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Preview: “4 Secrets of the CEO Brain”

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Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, a pioneer in the study of the business brain, will help decode C-level thinking and map out ways to increase your productivity in SmartBrief’s Aug. 25 webinar, “4 Secrets of the CEO Brain.” SmartBrief on Workforce Senior Editor Mary Ellen Slayter recently spoke with Ann about how business leaders can harness the thinking styles of their teams to be more effective.

MARY ELLEN: In your experience, do successful executives share any distinctive thinking patterns and work habits?

ANN: Absolutely! One key attribute of successful executives is their ability to integrate different perspectives when faced with a challenge, and then ultimately make the right decision. This means that they need to surround themselves with people who make them uncomfortable. Many managers are more inclined to engage and hire colleagues that are “on the same wave length.” Similarity creates short-term comfort, but ultimately short-changes the executive by minimizing the variety of “stimulus thinking” available in their entourage. Our CEO data shows a high frequency of a distinctive profile that straddles several different types of style, making the development of a team of rivals more natural.

Do you think those patterns are primarily inborn? Or learned?

Both inborn and learned. We all are born with a certain predisposition — however over the course of our lives, our brains and our thinking are influenced by our experiences. This is a message of hope for those of us who may not be as naturally inclined to such a variety styles within ourselves. I have worked with several rising executives who develop skills that balance their natural preferences and serve to broaden their thinking on the path success in their careers

What is the single most important step an executive can take to improve their effectiveness?

A great first step is a personal audit of thinking ”defaults” and the traps that they cause. Look for patterns in the decisions made that did not have their desired outcomes — these can be traced back to a thinking process that needs to be broadened. Anyone can learn how to, and with practice, see results right away.