102: Use Brain Science to Be a Better Manager with Noelle Cordeaux

You don’t need to be a brain scientist to leverage brain science. The question for managers is: How can we create the optimal cocktail of chemicals, neuron firings and natural responses to enable people to do their best work? And, by the way, how do we avoid triggering the unhelpful systems that can send someone down an unproductive path?

Today’s guest is Noelle Cordeaux. Noelle is CEO and co-founder of JRNI Coaching and the Catalyst Coaching Intensive. She is also a feminist scholar, coach, speaker, and sexologist who specializes in the relationship with the self.

Noelle and I talk about the difference it makes when you approach situations and people with a positive mindset, how to minimize defensiveness when having accountability conversations, and how to use brain science to inform your management style and get the best performance from your team while also creating a positive, healthy environment.

Read the related blog article: How to Apply Brain Science to Give Better Feedback

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  • Managers can leverage brain science to create the optimal environment for their team members.
  • The Poetic Principle says we can learn anything we put our mind to. When you look at your team members, its important to see them as full of potential.
  • Social Construction theory says people are born into believing they have limitations given their past experiences. Help your team members see their potential for themselves.
  • Mastery experiences help us develop confidence as we learn that we can achieve our goals. THey are little moments that lead us to the realization that “Wow! I can do it!”
  • Create opportunities for emotional interval training for your team members. This gives them opportunities to take small risks and go to the edge of their comfort zone but then retreat to safety. Over time, people become more tolerant of discomfort and are able to take greater risks before needing to return to safety.
  • When the nervous system fires up, it closes down the logic center. When the endocrine system fires up, it causes people to be more creative. People do their best work when their endocrine system is alive.
  • Use empathy mapping to help you understand the experience and perspective of your team members. Reflect for 5 minutes and consider what the other person has experienced, what they are seeing, hearing, feeling, etc.
  • Empathy mapping is especially useful before giving feedback or inquiring about a mistake or problem. It enables you to have compassion and anticipate how the other person might respond.
  • To avoid triggering a negative emotional response which leads to a ‘fight or flight’ mode, we must avoid appearing accusatory. Ask “what” questions instead of “why” questions. For example: “I expected X, but Y happened. Help me understand what caused the disconnect.” instead of “I expected X. Why didn’t we end up with X?”
  • When we externalize the situation, it enables people to be really honest because they know you’re not focused on their shortcomings. When someone is pointing a finger at you, it shuts down the opportunity for honest self reflection and growth.



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