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The views expressed in these articles are solely those of the authors and may not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the NLA.


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  • 27 Sep 2023 10:28 AM | David Robertson (Administrator)

    Leaderology, the science of leadership, may seem like a modern discipline at first glance. However, its roots extend far back into antiquity. While some scholars point to Aristotle as an early figure in the development of leadership theory, the origins of leadership can be traced even further into the annals of history. A renowned philosopher, Aristotle was a pupil of Plato, the author of "The Republic," a seminal work that delineated three distinct leadership archetypes. Yet, exploring leadership in literature predates even these ancient thinkers, finding its place as a central theme in Homer's epic poem, The Iliad.

    The point is that the study of leadership has deep historical roots, with ancient scholars and writers offering profound insights into the very essence of leadership. In this article, I would like to present the argument to the leadership community that Publius Cornelius Tacitus, an eminent Roman historian and politician from approximately AD 56 to AD 120, can be considered one of the earliest "leaderologists." While Tacitus is most celebrated for his historical contributions, the truth is that he had a profound impact on both our understanding of leadership and how we might examine it.

    I. Tacitus and the Context of his Works:

    To establish Tacitus as one of the first leaderologists, it is crucial to understand the historical and literary context in which he operated. Tacitus's surviving works, primarily the "Annals" and the "Histories," meticulously document the reigns of Roman emperors such as Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and the tumultuous Year of the Four Emperors in AD 69. These historical accounts serve as a rich source of information for understanding the leadership styles, decisions, and consequences of these emperors during a pivotal period in Roman history.

    II. Tacitus's Focus on Leadership:

    Examination of Leaders' Actions:

    Tacitus did more than just document the actions of leaders; he examined them. Tacitus's role as a leaderologist is underscored by his profound emphasis on the actions of leaders and their far-reaching effects. In his works, Tacitus meticulously scrutinizes the decisions and policies of Roman emperors, shedding light on their leadership qualities or the lack thereof. His attention to detail provides valuable insights into how leadership influenced the course of history during his time.

    Assessment of Leadership Consequences:

    As stated, Tacitus's writings go beyond mere narration; they critically evaluate leadership outcomes. He does not shy away from analyzing the consequences of leadership decisions on the Roman Empire, whether political intrigues, military campaigns, or the impact on society. Tacitus's keen observations allow readers to discern the cause-and-effect relationships between leadership choices and historical developments. Moreover, he was objectively critical during a time when doing so was less than popular or even dangerous.

    The Importance and Recognition of Contrast:

    An indispensable component of leaderology is the nuanced examination of contrast and the acknowledgment of various leadership paradoxes. In his extensive body of work, Tacitus consistently demonstrated the ability and the deep desire to explore the full spectrum of situations he encountered. His commitment to revealing the complexities of leadership and the multifaceted nature of the world around him set him apart as a profound leaderologist.

    One striking example of Tacitus's mastery of portraying contrast is his renowned work "Germania," composed in 98 AD. This work stems from his depiction of the Roman Empire in "Agricola," written during the controversial reign of Emperor Domitian (81 AD — 96 AD). In "Germania," Tacitus presents a captivating and, at times, contradictory view of the world. He skillfully contrasts the Germanic society with the Roman society of his era.

    Within this narrative, Tacitus paints a vivid picture of Germania, highlighting its unique customs, governance structures, and way of life. Simultaneously, he critiques the policies and actions of Emperor Domitian and, by extension, the broader Roman Empire. This juxtaposition serves as a powerful testament to Tacitus's ability to discern and convey the inherent contrasts within the leadership and social dynamics of his time. Moreover, it shows a strong attempt to understand the cause-and-effect nature of leadership decisions.

    For example, in "Germania," the reader is confronted with a stark contrast between the rugged simplicity of Germanic life and the opulence of Rome. Tacitus meticulously examines the values, traditions, and leadership structures of the Germanic tribes, which starkly contradict the complex bureaucracy and authoritarian rule of Rome. This stark dichotomy not only showcases Tacitus's keen observational skills but also underscores his commitment to revealing the intricate interplay of leadership, culture, and society, which are hallmarks of the social science of leadership.

    Tacitus's portrayal of contrast extends beyond mere description; it serves as a critical lens through which to analyze leadership dynamics. By contrasting Germanic society with Roman society, he invites readers to contemplate the implications of different leadership styles and societal values and explore the pros and cons of various elements within both. This approach challenges us to question our assumptions and preconceptions about leadership and encourages us to recognize the diversity of existing leadership paradigms.

    III. Exploration of Leadership Beyond Politics:

    While Tacitus is best known for his historical narratives, his engagement with leadership extends beyond the realm of politics. In his "Dialogus de Oratoribus," he delves into the art of oratory, a skill essential for leaders of his time or even modern day. This exploration reveals Tacitus's interest in leadership skills and influence that extended beyond the political arena, highlighting his comprehensive approach to leaderology. Indeed, any skilled leaderologist will recognize the complexities of leadership and will seek to explore and understand its various nuances.

    IV. Tacitus's Ethical Considerations:

    Tacitus often delves into the ethical dimensions of leadership, providing valuable insights into the moral character of leaders. This is to say that his writing was much more than mere documentation or critique. His writings often question the ethics of leadership decisions, shedding light on the moral dilemmas faced by leaders of his time. By addressing the ethical aspect of leadership, Tacitus's works contribute to a more holistic understanding of leadership that transcends mere political analysis or documentation.

    V. Tacitus's Relevance in Contemporary Leaderology:

    In many ways, Tacitus's insights remain remarkably relevant in contemporary leadership studies. When drawing parallels between the leadership challenges faced by Roman emperors and those encountered by modern leaders, we can see how his observations continue to offer valuable lessons for leadership in the present day. For instance, the political intrigues and ethical dilemmas faced by Roman emperors find echoes in the complex ethical and political decisions made by leaders in the 21st century. Tacitus's emphasis on leadership consequences also aligns with the contemporary focus on accountability and the long-term effects of leadership decisions. In this way, Tacitus's work bridges ancient and modern leadership studies, emphasizing the enduring relevance of his insights.

    VI. Comparison with Modern Leaderology:

    When contrasting Tacitus's approach to leaderology with modern leadership theories and frameworks, it can be argued that he laid the foundation for subsequent scholars to develop more structured leadership theories. While Tacitus's insights are rich in narrative and historical context, modern leaderology often incorporates systematic models and methodologies for studying leadership. For example, modern leadership theories like transformational and situational leadership build upon Tacitus's emphasis on leadership qualities and adaptability to different situations. By comparing Tacitus's narrative approach with contemporary ideas, we can appreciate how his work served as a precursor to more structured and analytical approaches to leadership studies.

    VII. Influence on Later Leaders and Leaderologists:

    Tacitus's enduring impact on the field of leadership studies is unquestionable. It can be argued that his insights help to change the modern world. In fact, his exploration of leadership qualities, actions, and their historical repercussions garnered the attention and favor of some of our most notable American Founders and was even cited in constitutional debates. Tacitus's examination of the ethical aspects of leadership remains historically significant, serving as a timeless reference point. His legacy continues to thrive in the realm of leadership studies today, where scholars diligently analyze his profound insights while further developing the foundational principles of leadership. In fact, his insights into “safety” profoundly impacted the completion of the Adversity Nexus Theory.

    Indeed, Publius Cornelius Tacitus emerges as a pioneering figure in the field of leaderology. His meticulous examination of leadership actions, critical evaluation of their consequences, comprehensive exploration of leadership qualities, and ethical considerations establish him as one of the earliest scholars to engage in the systematic study of leadership. While Tacitus is often celebrated for his historical contributions, it is essential to recognize his profound influence on the understanding of leadership in the ancient world and the enduring relevance of his insights in contemporary leadership studies. His work is a testament to leadership's enduring significance in shaping societies and the importance of studying leadership as a critical discipline in the social sciences.

    VIII. Evidence via Quote:

    Great empires are not maintained by timidity.

    The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state.

    The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.

    This is an unfair thing about war: victory is claimed by all, failure to one alone.”

    When [Servius Galba] was a commoner he seemed too big for his station, and had he never been emperor, no one would have doubted his ability to reign.”

    Of all things human the most precarious and transitory is a reputation for power which has no strong support of its own.

    … in disturbed times uncivilized communities trust and prefer leaders who take risks.

    Rarely will two or three tribes confer to repulse a common danger. Accordingly they fight individually and are collectively conquered.

    Vitellius gave orders for depleting the strength of the legions and auxiliaries. Recruiting was forbidden, and discharges offered without restriction. This policy was disastrous for the country and unpopular among the soldiers, who found that their turn for work and danger came round all the more frequently, now that there were so few to share the duties. Besides, their efficiency was demoralized by luxury. Nothing was left of the old-fashioned discipline and the good rules of our ancestors, who preferred to base the security of Rome on character and not on money.

    Further Reading:

    USEFUL VICES: by Shreyaa Bhatt

    Tacitus' Attitude to War and the Soldier: by Iiro Kajanto

    Tacitus Biography: by

  • 25 Sep 2023 12:05 PM | David Robertson (Administrator)

    Effective team building is essential, especially in today's dynamic and competitive world. Here is a fun framework, the F.U.S.I.O.N. Model, an easy reminder of what it takes to build a successful and cohesive team. This model culminates years of research and practical experience, offering a structured approach to help teams thrive in any environment. In this article, we will delve into each component of the F.U.S.I.O.N. Model, exploring how it contributes to the overall success of a team.

    F - Familiarity:

    At the heart of the F.U.S.I.O.N. Model is "Familiarity," a concept that underscores the importance of personal connections among team members. When individuals within a team know each other well and are close on a personal level, it fosters trust, camaraderie, and a sense of unity. These connections are not limited to knowing each other's names but extend to understanding each other's strengths, weaknesses, and unique qualities. If done correctly, it will bridge into personal elements such as family, friends, pets, wishes, hopes, and dreams. To cultivate familiarity within your team, consider opportunities to socialize outside of business, such as social events, meals, and other team-building opportunities that encourage open communication. The stronger the familiarity, the smoother the team's interactions will be.

    U - Uniqueness:

    "Uniqueness" acknowledges the individuality, distinct qualities, and strategic importance of each team member's roles. However, the critical part is that the team sees themselves as a team. This can be achieved by providing the team with an identity. Just as sports teams have their own logos and uniforms, every team should have its unique identity. This distinctiveness is not limited to external branding but also includes recognizing and valuing team members' diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives. Celebrate the differences within your team, as they can be a source of innovation and creativity.

    S - Synergy:

    "Synergy" highlights the importance of alignment among team members. However, this alignment should be with the vision. Individuals sharing similar attitudes, goals, and purposes create a fertile ground for effective collaboration and beneficial failure. Team synergy goes beyond mere agreement; it involves a shared vision and a common drive to achieve it. Encourage open discussions, establish clear objectives, and foster a culture of shared values to promote synergy within your team. When everyone is moving in the same direction, remarkable outcomes become attainable.

    I - Integrity:

    Integrity is a cornerstone of the F.U.S.I.O.N. Model, emphasizing the critical role of honesty, ethics, and fairness within the team. Teams with high integrity are built on trust and mutual respect. It's essential that team members feel they are treated fairly and that ethical principles guide the team's actions. Of course, this requires that the team be somewhat aligned ethically in the first place. Leaders can foster this environment by upholding a culture of transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct to ensure that the leader and the team operate with integrity.

    O - Oneness:

    "Oneness" captures the idea that team members share the benefits, challenges, and responsibilities of the team's endeavors. It underscores a sense of shared destiny and interdependence, where each member understands the strategic importance of others. For example, the kicker and the quarterback have very different jobs in football. However, both are strategically vital. As a result, they will lose or win together. Task interdependence encourages collaboration, as team members recognize that their success is intertwined with their colleagues. Foster oneness by promoting clear roles and responsibilities, encouraging cross-functional teamwork, and emphasizing the significance of each individual's contribution to the team's goals.

    N - Norms:

    Finally, "Norms" are the rituals and customs that define how a team operates and interacts. These norms, often called the "Rituals of Team Culture," provide clear guidelines and structured practices that promote teamwork and collaboration. Norms can include pre-game rituals, chants, or simple daily routines that strengthen team bonds and cohesion. A leader can take the lead in initiating these rituals, but it is often most effective to empower senior team members to establish them. Nonetheless, the leader still has a significant role in fostering and encouraging these behaviors. Just remember that establishing and adhering to these norms creates a sense of belonging and purpose within the team, reinforcing the core values and objectives of the group.


    The F.U.S.I.O.N. Model for Effective Team Development is a holistic approach that addresses the multifaceted aspects of building a successful team. By focusing on Familiarity, Uniqueness, Synergy, Integrity, Oneness, and Norms, teams can cultivate an environment conducive to collaboration, trust, and high-performance outcomes. Whether you're leading a sports team, a corporate team, or any group with a shared goal, implementing the principles of this model can help you navigate the complexities of team dynamics and achieve unparalleled success.


    The F.U.S.I.O.N. Model is a unique framework designed to help leaders remember necessary tactics for effective team development. It derives from significant research and literature in leaderology, organizational psychology, management, and sociology. These principles, individually or collectively, are widely recognized as fundamental aspects of effective teamwork and are often integrated into team-building strategies and training programs.

    Use of the F.U.S.I.O.N. Model is permitted with proper citation.

  • 24 Sep 2023 9:49 PM | Amin Sanaia

    In the ever-evolving landscape of the business world, leadership styles have adapted and transformed to meet the demands of a complex and dynamic workplace. Amidst this evolution, the coaching leadership style has emerged as a prominent and effective approach. Leadership must go beyond the traditional command-and-control paradigm in today's multifaceted work environments, characterized by rapid technological advancements and shifting employee expectations. Coaching leadership stands as a beacon of guidance, where leaders assume the role of mentors and coaches, providing invaluable support, feedback, and mentorship to their team members. This leadership style encapsulates the essence of leadership as a partnership rather than a directive, emphasizing empowering individuals to think critically, solve problems, and develop their skills.

    Underlying the coaching leadership style is the belief that team members are not merely employees but learners and collaborators. It transcends the conventional hierarchical structure, transforming the workplace into a learning ecosystem where every individual's growth and development are paramount. In a coaching leadership framework, team members are not seen as passive followers but active participants in the organization's journey. This paradigm shift fosters a sense of ownership among team members, instilling a more profound commitment to their work and the organization. As stated by Peng et al. (2019), this approach is particularly effective in complex workplaces, where team members require more than directives; they need a guiding hand to navigate the challenges of an ever-changing professional landscape.

    The Essence of Coaching Leadership

    The essence of coaching leadership lies in its core philosophy of mentorship and guidance. Unlike traditional autocratic leadership, where leaders assert authority and dictate tasks, coaching leaders focus on enabling individuals within the team to realize their potential—this shift from telling to guiding marks a fundamental departure from the conventional leadership paradigm. Clutterbuck (2017) affirmed that coaching leaders engage in active listening, asking probing questions, and facilitating constructive conversations. They act as mentors, helping team members reflect on their experiences, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and set personal and professional growth goals.

    Coaching leaders create an environment characterized by open communication, trust, and collaboration. In this environment, team members feel empowered to voice their ideas and concerns without fear of retribution. This culture of psychological safety, as articulated by Edmondson (1999), fosters innovation and creativity. Team members are more inclined to share novel ideas, experiment with different approaches, and think outside the box. This enhances their creativity and contributes to the organization's ability to innovate and adapt in an ever-evolving marketplace. Furthermore, as Whitmore (2009) emphasized, coaching leaders are adept at providing timely and constructive feedback. This feedback loop enhances performance and encourages a growth mindset among team members, as they view challenges and setbacks as opportunities for learning and improvement.

    In the coaching leadership style, team members are viewed as employees and individuals on a developmental journey. Leaders take a personal interest in the growth and well-being of their team members, acknowledging that personal development is integral to professional success. Through continuous feedback and support, coaching leaders help team members identify their strengths and areas for improvement. They also encourage individuals to take ownership of their development, further instilling a sense of accountability and empowerment within the team. This focus on personal and professional growth aligns with the "whole person" approach to leadership, as Clutterbuck and Megginson (2005) advocate. Leaders who adopt this approach understand that individuals bring their whole selves to work, and by nurturing both their personal and professional development, they create a thriving and engaged workforce.

    Team Building Through Coaching Leadership

    Team building is the cornerstone of effective coaching leadership. Maier et al. (2015) argue that building a cohesive and high-performing team starts with selecting the right individuals. Organizations need to develop a recruitment strategy aligned with the coaching leadership style. This strategy should prioritize not only potential candidates' technical skills and knowledge but also their interpersonal skills and attitudes.

    One key aspect often overlooked is the significance of customer service skills and attitude. Negative attitudes and poor customer service skills can disrupt team dynamics, leading to a decline in performance and productivity. Leaders practicing the coaching leadership style should focus on attracting individuals who possess the necessary technical skills and align with the team's values and culture. Once the right team is in place, coaching leaders play a pivotal role in nurturing and enhancing team cohesion. They create an environment where team members feel safe to voice their ideas and concerns. This open communication fosters trust and camaraderie among team members, further solidifying the team's foundation.

    Fostering Creativity and Skill Development

    One of the distinctive features of coaching leadership is its emphasis on personal and professional growth. In a coaching-led team, individuals are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, explore new ideas, and experiment with novel approaches. This enhances their creativity and contributes to the organization's innovation and adaptability. The coaching leadership style recognizes that team members have untapped potential. Through continuous feedback, coaching leaders identify strengths and weaknesses, providing opportunities for skill development. This approach aligns with the idea that learning is a lifelong journey. Leaders become enablers of growth, helping team members realize their full potential.

    As Peng et al. (2019) mentioned, coaching leadership creates an atmosphere of empowerment. Team members feel that their opinions and contributions are valued, which motivates them to explore new horizons and pursue excellence. In such an environment, the organization can harness its workforce's collective creativity and skill set, driving innovation and adaptability.

    Enhancing Team Member Engagement

    Employee engagement levels have become a critical concern for organizations worldwide, exacerbated by challenges such as the ongoing pandemic and global competition. Shanafelt and Noseworthy (2017) shed light on strategies to boost engagement and reduce burnout, with leadership playing a pivotal role. Coaching leadership stands out as a powerful tool in enhancing team member engagement. The coaching leader's role is not limited to task delegation; they actively engage with team members, understand their needs, and provide continuous support. This creates a strong sense of belonging and commitment among team members.

    Moreover, coaching leaders excel in recognizing individual strengths and aligning them with organizational goals. When team members are encouraged to leverage their strengths, they experience a heightened sense of purpose and fulfillment in their roles. This alignment enhances engagement and job satisfaction. In addition, coaching leaders are adept at providing constructive feedback and facilitating career development discussions. Team members see a clear path for personal and professional growth within the organization, further solidifying their commitment.

    Furthermore, the coaching leadership style nurtures a culture of continuous improvement. Team members are encouraged to seek feedback and take ownership of their development. This proactive approach to growth fosters engagement, as individuals feel empowered to shape their career trajectories.


    In the ever-changing landscape of the business world, leadership styles must evolve to meet the demands of a complex and competitive environment. Coaching leadership has emerged as a prominent style, emphasizing team building, creativity, and team member engagement. Through mentorship, feedback, and empowerment, coaching leaders foster an environment where individuals thrive, contribute their best, and remain engaged in the pursuit of organizational success. As organizations continue to navigate challenges, the coaching leadership style proves to be a valuable asset in building resilient, innovative, and engaged teams.

  • 24 Sep 2023 7:49 PM | Chris Fuzie (Administrator)

    While talking to another Leaderologist today we both commented on the times we’ve seen people get promoted from “specialist, front-line worker, technician etc.,” to supervisor without even providing any supervisory or leadership training.  During my forty years in public service I’ve seen time after time, people get promoted because they, “are the best at what they do.”  So, because they are the best at what they do, they must be good at supervising the other people who “do what they do,” not necessarily.  Promoting someone who is technically proficient at a job to a supervisor or managerial position is a widespread practice, but it is not always the best way to go. While technical expertise is undoubtedly valuable for supervision, evaluation of work product, and understanding the needs of the position, it does not automatically translate into effective supervisor/managerial skills.  Simply put, if someone is a great “widget maker” doesn’t mean they will be a great “supervising widget maker” because the skill set is completely different.

    Although this happens frequently in government and industry, promoting someone to a supervisory/managerial role without providing them with adequate supervisory/manager training can lead to a range of problems and challenges within an organization. Some of the potential issues that may arise include inability to lead, communication issues, engagement issues, favoritism and bias, legal and compliance issues.  Let’s take a look at some of these issues and how to avoid them.

    The first and most principal issue is ineffective leadership. Without proper training, the new supervisor/manager may lack the skills and knowledge needed to effectively lead and manage a team. This can result in poor decision-making, low employee morale, and decreased productivity.  Effective supervisors and managers need strong leadership and people skills, such as communication, conflict resolution, understanding of motivation, team building and development. Prior technical proficiency does not guarantee competence in these areas.  

    Supervision and management involves a different skill set than technical work. Supervisors and managers must excel in areas like decision-making, problem-solving, strategic thinking, and project management, these are the “technically proficient” skills of a supervisor and manager, which may be very different than those needed for the frontline or specialist position. Some issues and problems that can be easily remedied by providing training ahead of promotions include the following:

    • Communication Problems: Supervisors and managers need persuasive communication skills to convey expectations, provide feedback, and resolve conflicts. A lack of training in this area can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunication, and a breakdown in team dynamics.
    • Time Management/Adaptability: Supervisors and managers often have to balance multiple responsibilities, including overseeing teams, setting priorities, and handling administrative tasks. Technical experts only may struggle with time management and delegation. Technical roles may focus on specific tasks or projects, while supervisory and managerial roles require adaptability to handle a variety of challenges and responsibilities that may be occurring simultaneously and require prioritization.
    • Employee Disengagement: When supervisors and managers are untrained or unprepared, they may struggle to engage and motivate their team members. This can lead to decreased job satisfaction, higher turnover rates, and a decrease in overall team performance.  Employee Development is a major factor in employee motivation, satisfaction, and performance. Supervisors and Managers play a crucial role in employee development and career progression.  Without any additional training technical experts may not have experience or skills in mentoring, coaching, performance counseling and evaluations.
    • Conflict Resolution Issues: Supervisors often need to mediate conflicts among team members. Without proper training, they may mishandle disputes, exacerbate tensions, or fail to address issues effectively. Evaluating in advance how the promotion might affect team dynamics is critical to some of the conflict resolution practices. Sometimes, team members may not accept a former colleague as their manager, which can lead to friction.
    • Legal and Compliance Risks: Supervisors play a crucial role in ensuring that workplace policies and procedures are followed. Inadequate training can lead to compliance violations, which may result in legal and regulatory problems for the organization.
    • Favoritism and Bias: Untrained supervisors and managers may unintentionally show favoritism or bias in their decision-making, which can lead to resentment among team members and damage morale.  Promoting someone from a technical role to a supervisor or managerial role within the same team can create conflicts of interest, as they may need to make decisions that affect their former peers.
    • Stress and Burnout: Supervisory and managerial roles can be challenging, and without training, new supervisors may struggle with goal alignment, resource management or managing their workload, leading to stress and burnout. Supervisors and managers need to align their team's efforts with the organization's goals and objectives. Without training, they may struggle to set clear goals and monitor progress effectively leading to added stress. Effective supervisors and managers need to allocate resources, including time, personnel, and budget, efficiently. Without training, they may mismanage these resources, leading to inefficiencies and increased costs.
    • Retention and Cultural Issues:  Poorly trained supervisors can contribute to a negative organizational culture characterized by mistrust, low morale, and a lack of teamwork. Thus, high-quality employees may become frustrated and leave the organization if they are not properly supervised. This can result in talent loss and increased recruitment and training costs.  Developing a comprehensive succession plan that identifies individuals with both technical expertise and leadership potential will allow organizations to groom future supervisors and managers from within the organization.    It's beneficial to offer a path for career growth that includes both technical and managerial tracks. This enables employees to advance in their careers based on their strengths and interests. It also ensures that those promoted to supervisory and managerial positions are equipped with the necessary skills and competencies to excel in their new roles.

    Putting it All Together

    To avoid these problems, it is essential for organizations to invest in supervisory/managerial training and development programs that provide new supervisors with the necessary skills, knowledge, and tools to excel in their roles. Preferably, this training is completed before people are chosen for the positions.  If that can’t happen, then as soon as possible after they are selected.  This training should cover topics such as leadership, communication, conflict resolution, performance management, and legal compliance to ensure that supervisors can effectively lead their teams and contribute to the organization's success.  Ultimately, the decision to promote someone who is technically proficient to a managerial role should be made based on a careful assessment of their supervisory or managerial potential, skills, and readiness, rather than assuming that technical expertise alone makes them the best fit for the position.

    About the Author: Dr. Chris Fuzie is the owner of CMF Leadership Consulting and is currently the Business/HR Manager for a District Attorney’s office in California. Chris is a Leaderologist II and Vice President of the National Leaderology Association (NLA) who holds a Doctor of Education (Ed. D), M.A. and B.A. in Organizational Leadership, and has graduate certificates in Human Resources and Criminal Justice Education. Chris is a developer, trainer, consultant for leadership of public, private, profit, and non-profit organizations since 2010. Chris is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and a former National Instructor for the International Association of Chiefs of Police and California P.O.S.T. Courses. Chris is the author of "Because Why... Understanding Behavior in Exigencies." and of "S.C.O.R.E. Performance Counseling: Save the Relationship, Change the Behavior." Chris is honorably retired from the Modesto Police Department after 28 years of public service leading such teams as the Homicide Team, the Hostage Negotiations Team, the Street-Level Drug Team and the School Police Officer Team.

  • 22 Sep 2023 10:09 AM | David Robertson (Administrator)

    Effective communication and efficient problem-solving are crucial for sustainable success in the dynamic landscape of modern organizations. The GF Proposal Model is a structured approach that empowers individuals to address organizational issues methodically. This model provides a step-by-step guide for clear, concise, and professional proposal development. Adhering to the GF Proposal Model can enhance your problem identification, evaluation, and resolution exploration skills, ultimately contributing to a more agile and proactive workplace.

    Step 1: Professional Proposal Development

    The first step in the GF Proposal Model is to present your proposal to leadership in a typed format. This initial step is pivotal as it sets the stage for professionalism, legibility, and conciseness. Additionally, ensure that you maintain a copy of the proposal for your records and save the file in a secure location. This practice not only ensures that your proposal is readily accessible for reference but also demonstrates organizational responsibility and commitment to the issue at hand.

    Step 2: Clear Issue Description

    To maintain objectivity and eliminate emotional bias, your proposal should begin with a clear and concise description of the issue to be considered. Avoid verbosity and maintain a matter-of-fact tone. The primary goal of this step is to make sure that your audience, including leadership, understands the issue without unnecessary distractions. This sets the foundation for a focused and constructive discussion.

    Step 3: Detailed Issue Explanation

    Following the issue's description, explain why it is a matter of concern and what consequences may arise if left unaddressed. This step requires a comprehensive analysis of the issue, including its potential impact on various aspects of the organization. By presenting a well-rounded view of the problem, you enable leadership to fully grasp the issue's significance.

    Step 4: Viable Solutions

    The GF Proposal Model emphasizes the importance of offering multiple solutions. Provide at least three viable and detailed options for resolving the issue. By presenting a range of alternatives, you facilitate more informed decision-making. Avoid knee-jerk reactions and invest time in developing each solution thoroughly. This shows that you are committed to finding the best possible solution.

    Step 5: Recommendation

    After presenting multiple solutions, it is essential to make a clear recommendation. Choose one of the proposed solutions and justify your selection. Your recommendation should reflect your careful consideration of the issue and align with the organization's goals and values. This step showcases your ability to make thoughtful decisions, a highly regarded leadership skill.

    Step 6: Rationale and Context

    Conclude your proposal by explaining why you have chosen the recommended solution. This step reinforces the previous ones by offering a rationale and context for leadership to consider. Explain how the selected solution addresses the issue's core aspects and why it is the most appropriate course of action. This transparent approach enhances the credibility of your proposal and facilitates a smoother decision-making process.

    Advanced Example

    Title: Proposal for [Issue Resolution]


    Briefly introduce your organization and the services or products you offer.

    Provide an overview of the issue you will be addressing in the proposal.


    Clearly state the issue that needs to be addressed, including any relevant background information.

    Provide statistics or other data to support the need for a solution if possible.

    Why it’s an issue:

    Explain the impact of the issue and why it needs to be addressed.

    Highlight any potential risks or negative consequences if the issue is not addressed (cause and effect).

    Solution #1:

    Clearly describe the first solution being proposed, including any relevant details and benefits.

    Provide an estimate of the cost and timeline for implementation.

    Solution #2:

    Clearly describe the second solution being proposed, including any relevant details and benefits.

    Provide an estimate of the cost and timeline for implementation.

    Solution #3:

    Clearly describe the third solution being proposed, including any relevant details and benefits.

    Provide an estimate of the cost and timeline for implementation.

    Professional Recommendation & Solution Choice:

    Provide a brief summary of the solutions proposed and recommend the solution that you believe is the best fit for the issue at hand.

    Reason for the Selection of the Chosen Solution:

    Provide a detailed explanation of why the chosen solution is the best fit for the issue, including how it addresses the issue and how it aligns with any goals and objectives

    Any Optional Additions (Addressed Below):

    If necessary, include some of the optional pieces addressed below.


    Summarize the proposal, including the issue, solutions proposed, professional recommendation, and reason for the selection of the chosen solution.

    Include a call to action, such as requesting a meeting to discuss the proposal further or requesting a decision on the chosen solution.

    Optional Additions

    • Testimonials, case studies, and references.
    • Implementation plan: Including a detailed implementation plan for your chosen solution that includes a step-by-step plan of the execution process, timelines, and milestones.
    • Ongoing support, risks, and contingencies.
    • ROI: If it is possible, provide an estimate of the return on investment that can be expected from your solution, this could be in monetary or non-monetary terms.
    • Flexibility: Show that you are open to discussing and customizing the solution to meet the specific needs.


    The GF Proposal Model offers a systematic approach to organizational communication, problem identification, and resolution exploration. By following the six steps outlined in this model, you can present proposals that are not only professional and concise but also well-informed and strategic. This framework empowers individuals to contribute effectively to their organizations, fostering a culture of proactive problem-solving and continuous improvement. Incorporate the GF Proposal Model into your communication toolkit and pave the way for a more dynamic and adaptive workplace.

    Use of this work is permitted with proper citation.

  • 18 Sep 2023 11:18 PM | Chris Fuzie (Administrator)

    It Started With an Innocent Question

    I was asked the other day by someone applying for a job if they should use the term “authentic” when describing themselves as a leader.  My answer was almost immediately, “yes.”  I went on to explain that you are an authentic leader when you display genuine and transparent behavior, values, and actions and your words and your actions match.  I further explained that authentic leaders are characterized by their genuineness, self-awareness, ethical decision-making, and a focus on building meaningful relationships.  I was happy with the explanation and so was the other person.  After we concluded our discussion, I began to think that maybe there are circumstances and situations where authenticity can actually be a downside, or even hurt us in some manner.  I also began to think that maybe we don’t really want people to be totally authentic all the time.

    While authenticity is generally seen as a positive trait, it seems there can be some downsides or challenges associated with being authentic in certain situations.  As leaders we have to be emotionally intelligent to what is happening with individuals, groups, teams, and even organizations and other cultures.   So, I asked myself, “Do we ALWAYS want people to be “authentic?”  Let me offer some possible situations where authenticity may get us in trouble or cause us some problems. 

    Authenticity as Applied in Socialization

    One of the first things that comes to mind is social rejection. During the socialization process there is a psychological contract between the individual and the group.  Being totally authentic might lead to social rejection or isolation, especially if your authentic self doesn't align with societal norms or the expectations of a particular group. People who are different may sometimes face discrimination or exclusion.  Regardless of attempts to be “inclusive,” if someone does not meet their end of the psychological contract this can lead to exclusion, isolation, or worse, it can then lead to conflict. Authenticity can sometimes lead to conflicts as it involves expressing your true thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. This expression can potentially clash with the opinions and values of others, resulting in disagreements or tension, especially if you are in a group where you already recognize that your values and beliefs are widely different than the other members of the group.

    Authenticity as Applied to Vulnerability

    The other side of this is the idea of clashing ideals are feelings of vulnerability.  Authenticity often involves opening up and being vulnerable, which can be emotionally challenging for many people.  Sharing your true self may expose you to criticism, judgment, or emotional pain.  You may also be misunderstood if you do become vulnerable. Your authentic self may not always be fully understood by others. People may misinterpret your intentions or misjudge your character based on your authentic comments or actions, leading to misunderstandings.  In a professional setting, these misunderstandings may have serious professional consequences. In some professional settings, complete authenticity may not be encouraged or may even be discouraged. Sharing every thought or feeling at work, for example, could have negative consequences for your career, as well as cause you some legal concerns depending on what your “authentic self” did or said.

    Authenticity as Applied to Risk Avoidance/Management

    Another area to consider are privacy concerns. Sharing too much of your authentic self, online or in public, can raise privacy concerns as you are willing to provide information that can be used for malevolent reasons. It also might expose you to unwanted attention or even security risks.  Imagine an elected official being “totally” authentic and saying exactly how they feel about a member of the public in a formal meeting?  Imagine the impact that could have on relationships. Authenticity can affect relationships differently. While it can deepen some connections, it may strain others if your authentic self doesn't align with the expectations or values of those people you're close to.  This could also lead to self-doubt. When you're authentic, you might question yourself more, as you're constantly evaluating whether your actions and expressions align with your true self. This self-reflection can lead to self-doubt.  For people who suffer from the imposter syndrome, this can enhance the syndrome effects.

    Authenticity as Applied to Culture

    The last thought I have for possible issues caused by being authentic all the time is that of authenticity in some cultural and social contextual considerations we may be in and need to think about. The degree to which you can be authentic may vary based on cultural norms and/or the specific context. If you’ve traveled some, especially to locations with a vastly different culture than your own, you know some cultures or social situations value conformity or reserve over individuality.  Western culture is more focused on individualism because we all have our inalienable rights!  Other places are not so, and value pluralism or conditions in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious, and/or cultural groups are present and tolerated within a society and the focus is on what benefits everyone more than the individual.

    Putting It All Together

    If we really consider the attributes of authenticity, the downsides of authenticity can vary widely depending on the individual, the context, and the people involved.  While there are potential drawbacks, authenticity is still highly valued by many for fostering genuine connections, personal growth, and a sense of self-fulfillment. However, I would argue that we cannot just be 100% authentic all the time and still need to use some measure of degree of authenticity to avoid the pitfalls.  Balancing authenticity with emotional intelligence, self and situational awareness and social sensitivity can help mitigate some of these downsides while still staying true and authentic to oneself. 


    About the Author: Dr. Chris Fuzie is the owner of CMF Leadership Consulting and is currently is the Business/HR Manager for a District Attorney’s office in California. Chris is a Leaderologist II and Vice President of the National Leaderology Association (NLA) who holds a Doctor of Education (Ed. D), M.A. and B.A. in Organizational Leadership, and has graduate certificates in Human Resources and Criminal Justice Education. Chris is a developer, trainer, consultant for leadership of public, private, profit, and non-profit organizations since 2010. Chris is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and a former National Instructor for the International Association of Chiefs of Police and California P.O.S.T. Courses. Chris is the author of "Because Why... Understanding Behavior in Exigencies." and of "S.C.O.R.E. Performance Counseling: Save the Relationship, Change the Behavior." Chris is honorably retired from the Modesto Police Department after 28 years of public service leading such teams as the Homicide Team, the Hostage Negotiations Team, the Street-Level Drug Team and the School Police Officer Team.

  • 17 Sep 2023 2:29 PM | Amin Sanaia

    In leadership, the ability to empathize stands as a cornerstone for building meaningful connections, fostering teamwork, and inspiring growth. This article delves into the intricate world of neural pathways, exploring how the brain processes and responds to others' emotions, enabling leaders to unlock the power of empathy. We unravel the neurobiology of empathy, highlighting the role of mirror neurons in connecting with others, and delve into strategies that leaders can embrace to enhance their empathetic responses, paving the way for positive neuroplastic changes and enhanced leadership effectiveness.

    Neural Processes Underlying Empathy

    The neural theater of empathy unfolds within the brain, where a symphony of regions collaborates to decipher and respond to others' emotions, facilitating genuine connections. The insula, a hub for emotional awareness, lights up as we perceive emotional cues in others. Its activation enables us to tune into subtle shifts in facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. Meanwhile, the anterior cingulate cortex, responsible for emotional regulation and social cognition, processes and empathizes with their emotional state. This intricate dance of neural regions engenders a sense of shared emotions, allowing us to step into others' shoes and understand their feelings with depth and authenticity.

    Consider the scenario of a leader witnessing a team member's frustration during a challenging project. The insula and anterior cingulate cortex align, forming a neural bond that bridges the gap between their emotions. This neural connection empowers the leader to respond empathetically, creating a sense of camaraderie and reinforcing team cohesion. Leaders can harness this neural dance to foster deeper connections and more impactful leadership by understanding the brain's role in empathetic responses.

    The Role of Mirror Neurons in Fostering Empathy

    Mirror neurons, often referred to as the "empathy neurons," play a pivotal role in the intricate dance of empathy. These neurons fire when we perform an action and when we observe someone else performing the same action. This mirroring mechanism allows the brain to simulate others' experiences, paving the way for understanding their emotions and intentions. Mirror neurons ignite empathy by forging neural pathways synchronizing our emotional responses with those we interact with. This neural mirroring bridges the gap between individuals, fostering a profound connection that extends beyond verbal communication.

    Imagine a leader who observes a team member's excitement after a successful project. Mirror neurons fire in resonance, mirroring the team member's joy and igniting empathy. This neural dance fosters emotional attunement, nurturing a sense of connection that transcends words. Through understanding the brain's mirror neuron system, leaders can consciously leverage this mechanism to strengthen their empathetic responses and amplify their leadership impact.

    Enhancing Empathy and Triggering Neuroplastic Changes

    Leaders can harness the brain's remarkable neuroplasticity to cultivate and amplify empathy. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, not only encourage a heightened awareness of one's emotions but also train the brain to be present and attuned to the emotions of others. Engaging in active listening, where the brain's circuits light up to understand others' perspectives, also promotes empathy's neural connections. By consistently engaging in these practices, leaders can foster the growth of neural pathways that underpin empathetic responses.

    Consider a leader who practices mindfulness daily and actively engages in listening exercises during team interactions. This commitment cultivates heightened emotional awareness and empathy. As the brain adapts through neuroplasticity, the leader's empathetic responses become instinctual, positively influencing team dynamics and fostering a culture of understanding. Leaders who embrace these strategies amplify their empathetic capacities and catalyze positive neuroplastic changes within their teams.

    Empathy Training's Impact on Leadership

    Case studies exemplify how empathy training reshapes neural pathways and amplifies leadership effectiveness. Doctors who undergo empathy training in healthcare demonstrate enhanced patient care and satisfaction. Their heightened empathetic responses, a product of rewired neural pathways, create stronger patient-physician relationships and better medical outcomes. In the corporate world, companies prioritizing empathy training for their leaders witness increased employee engagement and productivity. By fostering empathetic neural connections, leaders bridge gaps, mitigate conflicts, and foster collaboration—resulting in a harmonious work environment that reflects positively on the bottom line.

    Imagine a corporate leader who, after empathy training, adopts a more empathetic approach toward their team members. This shift in leadership style resonates deeply, fostering an environment where employees feel heard, valued, and understood. As the leader's empathetic neural pathways strengthen through consistent practice, the impact on the team becomes palpable. Team members report higher job satisfaction, improved morale, and increased loyalty—a testament to the transformative power of empathy training on both leaders and those they lead.


    Empathy, a neural ballet of emotional resonance, serves as a catalyst for effective leadership. The brain's insula and anterior cingulate cortex orchestrate this empathetic symphony, illuminating the path to shared emotions and understanding. Mirror neurons weave connection threads, enabling leaders to walk in others' emotional shoes, fostering unity and compassion.

    As leaders embrace mindfulness, active listening, and empathy training, the brain's plasticity molds neural pathways that mirror empathy's transformative power. Case studies underscore how empathy training creates tangible shifts in leadership effectiveness, reiterating that empathy, far from being a mere emotion, is a tangible neural dance.

    Through empathy, leaders amplify their influence, kindling a chain reaction of neuroplastic changes that ripple through teams and organizations. Empathy emerges as a neurological masterpiece in this symphony of shared emotions, guiding leaders toward authentic connections and enlightened leadership.


    Decety, J., & Jackson, P. L. (2006). A Social-Neuroscience Perspective on Empathy. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(2), 54-58.

    Goleman, D. (1998). Working with Emotional Intelligence. Bantam.

    Klimecki, O. M., Leiberg, S., Lamm, C., & Singer, T. (2012). Functional Neural Plasticity and Associated Changes in Positive Affect After Compassion Training. Cerebral Cortex, 23(7), 1552-1561.

    Rizzolatti, G., & Craighero, L. (2004). The Mirror-Neuron System. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 27, 169-192.

    Riess, H. (2015). The Impact of Clinical Empathy on Patients and Clinicians: Understanding Empathy's Side Effects. American Journal of Bioethics, 15(12), 42-44.

  • 11 Sep 2023 5:32 PM | Amin Sanaia


    Vulnerability, often regarded as a chink in the armor, emerges as a paradoxical force in the realm of leadership. Beyond its apparent fragility, vulnerability yields profound neurological insights. This article embarks on a journey through the neural landscapes to unravel the brain's reactions to vulnerability, its emotional tapestry, and the transformation it wields. We delve into the "amygdala hijack" concept and its impact on neural circuitry, explore evidence of vulnerability's enduring benefits, and unveil strategies for leaders to wield vulnerability as a catalyst for positive neuroplasticity.

    Neurological Responses and Emotional Shades of Vulnerability

    When someone displays vulnerability, a nuanced symphony resonates within the brain. The anterior cingulate cortex—a conductor of emotional processing—activates, orchestrating the recognition of authenticity and emotional resonance. Simultaneously, the insula—intimately tied to empathy and emotional experiences—gently stirs, contributing to the empathetic response. This orchestration is joined by the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making and self-awareness. It engages in a delicate dance with the amygdala, modulating emotional responses and aiding in rational contemplation.

    Consider a leader admitting a mistake during a meeting. The anterior cingulate cortex, insula, and prefrontal cortex engage in a synchronized ballet. This trio of brain regions recognizes vulnerability and navigates its emotional shades. The prefrontal cortex tempers the amygdala's initial response, allowing for a balanced emotional reaction. This dance within the brain mirrors the complexity of human emotions, fostering an atmosphere of empathy and authenticity.

    The "Amygdala Hijack" and Neural Remodeling

    The "amygdala hijack" concept elucidates the brain's primal response to perceived threats. When vulnerability surfaces, the amygdala—a sentinel for danger—can trigger an amygdala hijack, inducing emotional overwhelm. This hijack diverts cognitive resources, stifling rational thought and inhibiting nuanced responses. However, vulnerability's paradox lies in its potential for rewiring neural connections. Over time, repeated exposures to vulnerability—handled with emotional intelligence—promote the strengthening of neural pathways that encourage emotional regulation and empathy. The brain's plasticity is harnessed, allowing vulnerability to transform from a threat to an opportunity for growth. The brain's incredible adaptability is showcased as it remodels its architecture in response to vulnerability, navigating the delicate equilibrium between emotional reactivity and thoughtful responsiveness.

    The Empowering Tale of Vulnerable Leadership

    Evidence underscores vulnerability's enduring impact on neural pathways and team unity. Research highlights that leaders who openly acknowledge their limitations and seek input from their team foster a culture of trust and authenticity. The brain's plasticity, attuned to these genuine interactions, reshapes neural networks to accommodate enhanced emotional intelligence. This phenomenon ripples through teams, enabling individuals to feel safe sharing their ideas, concerns, and even their vulnerabilities. The result is a harmonious neural symphony where transparency and empathy are the keystones woven into the very fabric of team dynamics.

    Consider the story of Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. His candidness about his journey and the importance of empathy in leadership has redefined Microsoft's culture. Under his leadership, the company transformed into a product-focused entity centered around empathy and collaboration. This example showcases vulnerability's power to steer not only the course of leadership but also the course of an entire organization.

    Strategies for Navigating Vulnerability as a Leader

    Cultivate Psychological Safety: Nurture an environment where team members feel secure expressing their thoughts and concerns. The brain's plasticity thrives in spaces rich with psychological safety, fostering trust and openness.

    Practice Self-Awareness: Embrace vulnerability through self-awareness. Understand your emotional triggers and responses, allowing you to navigate vulnerability while maintaining self-control and emotional equilibrium.

    Engage in Authentic Communication: Share personal anecdotes, acknowledging challenges and learnings. Leaders engage the brain's empathy circuits by showcasing authenticity and fostering more profound connections.

    Embrace Mistakes as Learning Opportunities: Transform mistakes into growth moments. Demonstrating vulnerability by owning your mistakes and seeking solutions encourages a culture of continuous learning and neural adaptation.

    Encourage Feedback Loops: Establish a feedback-rich environment that embraces both positive and constructive feedback. Encourage team members to share their observations, suggestions, and concerns. By welcoming diverse perspectives, leaders foster transparency and mutual respect, leading to enhanced team dynamics and neural flexibility.


    Vulnerability, the fragile jewel of leadership, shines brightly in the intricate neural tapestry. As leaders embrace vulnerability, the brain's responses resonate across the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, and amygdala. The paradox of the "amygdala hijack" unveils vulnerability's potential to reshape neural pathways, empowering emotional intelligence.

    Leaders like Steve Jobs exemplify vulnerability's transformative potential, bridging the chasm between vulnerability and strength. The strategies of cultivating psychological safety, practicing self-awareness, engaging in authentic communication, and embracing mistakes as learning opportunities forge neural pathways toward harmonious leadership.

    As leaders traverse the terrain of vulnerability, they catalyze the brain's plasticity, shaping neural circuits that fuse authority with authenticity. Vulnerability emerges not as a frailty but as a catalyst for growth, building bridges that unite leaders and teams in a symphony of shared humanity.


    Brown, B. (2015). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Avery.

    Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Bantam Books.

    Klimecki, O. M., Leiberg, S., Lamm, C., & Singer, T. (2013). Functional Neural Plasticity and Associated Changes in Positive Affect After Compassion Training. Cerebral Cortex, 23(7), 1552-1561.

    Mann, L., Harmoni, R., & Power, C. (1989). The Groucho Effect: Motivation for Inhibiting Disagreement in Cooperative Dialog as a Function of Imagined Future Interaction and Disagreement Valence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 25(1), 4-28.

    Reardon, J. (2015). The Charisma Code: Communicating in a Language Beyond Words. Penguin.

    University of California, Berkeley. (n.d.). The Neurobiology of Emotion Regulation Development and the Effects of Early Life Adversity: Research Brief. Retrieved from

  • 10 Sep 2023 1:09 PM | David Robertson (Administrator)

    Change is a fundamental aspect of life, both in our personal journeys and within the broader societal and organizational contexts. While the adage "change is constant" is undeniably true, there is a misconception that we must simply embrace and adopt it whenever it presents itself. However, the simple notion of unquestioningly adopting change can be misleading and even detrimental. Not all change is created equal. While change is constant and forever, and while some changes must be adopted, the truth is that some changes should be emphatically resisted.

    To begin, let's establish a clear understanding of what change encompasses. Change can manifest in various forms, ranging from shifts in beliefs, attitudes, and relationships to alterations in technology, weather patterns, and geopolitical dynamics. These transformations can occur suddenly or gradually, and their impact can vary significantly among individuals, organizations, and society at large. One can note the emotional elements of each of these.

    One crucial factor in assessing change is perception. What may be considered positive or beneficial to one person or group might be viewed as negative or detrimental by another. This inherent subjectivity underscores the complexity of change. However, this understanding also allows us to not only navigate change but also helps us understand why some might overtly resist it.

    Often, change is systemic and sometimes somewhat paradoxical. This is to say that we might not always fully appreciate the impact that a change can have, and we may not appreciate the hardships that result from positive change. Similarly, we may not have considered the unintended consequences of adopting seemingly positive but detrimental change. Greater consideration must be had.

    Change is not simply divided into good and bad; it often blurs these lines and provides contrasting starting and ending points. Take, for example, a scenario where a dam is constructed upstream to generate clean energy. While it may benefit the region economically, it negatively impacts downstream communities that rely on the river. Similarly, a company's restructuring, though initially detrimental to the organization’s reputation and some employees' lives, can ultimately lead to increased competitiveness, sustainability, and perhaps greater employment opportunities.

    As alluded to previously, sometimes, change can present hardships that are beneficial and comforts that are detrimental. Consider a diabetic and obese individual adopting a strict and responsible health program. The initial discomfort of the program will likely feel negative or painful, but the long-term benefits are undeniably positive. The same is true with seemingly positive change that ends badly. Continuing the health analogy, one might adopt an extreme weight loss program, which leads to rapid results and a sense of accomplishment. However, such crash diets typically result in greater weight gain and can be detrimental to one's physical and mental health in the long run. Of course, the resulting nutritional deficiencies, eating disorders, and weight gain contort perceptions of the effort and benefit and can derail further efforts. 

    These examples merely illustrate the concept that the immediate feelings associated with change do not always align with its ultimate result. Once again, we can note the deception of our emotional compass and the seemingly paradoxical nature of the change itself. The lesson here is that the measures we use are critical if outcomes matter.

    A related warning is that short-term gains might be attractive, but they are often deceptive and allow people to convince themselves that they have made the right decision and are heading in the right direction when they are not. In other words, these quick fixes may offer immediate emotional gratification, but they often steer people away from their ultimate goals. Get-rich-quick schemes, credit card abuse, and substance abuse are great examples of this concept. It's essential to discern between short-term satisfaction and long-term fulfillment, always prioritizing the latter.

    Emotions play a significant role in how we perceive change. However, many times, those emotions are inaccurate. Emotional reactions, especially during the onset of change, can cloud judgment and lead to impulsive, short-term decisions and contorted perceptions. This is to say that emotionally driven choices often focus narrowly on immediate feelings, neglecting the broader context and the perspectives of others or the long-term benefit of the change itself. Similarly, strong emotions can lead to overconfidence regarding our initial feelings, causing individuals to disregard any actual long-term benefits and alternative viewpoints (options) altogether.

    It is critical to understand that emotions are often inconsistent and can fluctuate wildly. An example here might be the irritability and short tempers we experience during the onset of hunger. This reality might make us lash out when we might not have otherwise or even lead us to make poor decisions at the grocery store. These are merely examples that demonstrate that making decisions based on emotions should be seen as unreliable.

    Social pressure further complicates emotional responses, as individuals may choose to conform rather than rationally evaluate the situation. Simultaneously, the emotional individual may ignore the detriment or benefit of a particular change or even disregard the long-term vision entirely. Again, basing decisions solely on emotions is ill-advised, particularly when facing change.

    With these ideas in mind, we can confidently know that there are some changes you should adopt and some you should resist. To determine whether a change should be embraced or resisted, we must differentiate between beneficial and detrimental change rather than simply relying on our positive or negative perceptions. Beneficial change aligns with long-term goals and visions, enhancing efficiency, effectiveness, competitiveness, or overall well-being. Detrimental change deviates from the established vision and often results from poor analysis or mismanagement. However, it is essential to understand that the journey to either beneficial or detrimental change can be either comfortable or uncomfortable.

    Measuring change against the long-term vision is the key to deciding whether to adopt or resist it. If the change advances the vision, even if it entails short-term discomfort, it should be embraced. Conversely, if the change jeopardizes the long-term vision, it should probably be resisted. However, this requires having a long-term vision in the first place and having a strong understanding of what that journey might look like. Without an established vision and an understanding of that vision, any change can be problematic and will likely be resisted because the reason for that change will not be well understood or be deemed weak.

    Similarly, if the long-term vision has changed or needs to change, the new vision must be simple and solid, and the organization or group must have an understanding and consensus on that alteration. Ideally, the group should have some say in the alteration. Understand that having a vision that the group agrees upon allows for the easier adoption of change and helps individuals navigate obstacles in the absence of immediate direction.

    One way to navigate these complexities is through strategic questioning. To do this, you must first associate "vision" with the ultimate destination or "success." Then, ask: "Does this change ultimately get us closer to or pull us further away from the vision?" The answer to this question helps to inform the adoption or resistance decision.

    Strategic navigation is paramount. Like many things in leadership, change has paradoxical elements that must be considered. Emotions are powerful, which is why we should keep them in check. Specifically, emotions should not be the sole drivers of our decisions, especially regarding change initiatives. By classifying change as beneficial or detrimental (instead of positive or negative) and measuring the change against our long-term visions, we can make informed decisions that lead to optimal outcomes. Remember, it's not about feelings or being right; it's about being accurate and staying committed to your long-term vision, even when change feels challenging.

  • 3 Sep 2023 4:26 PM | Amin Sanaia

    In the realm of leadership, authenticity shines as a guiding star, illuminating pathways toward trust, growth, and collaboration. As we peer into the depths of the brain, a fascinating narrative unfolds—the brain's remarkable ability to discern authenticity. This article embarks on a journey through neurobiology to uncover the brain regions instrumental in recognizing authenticity, the transformative power of authentic leadership on neural plasticity, and the profound synergy between authenticity, trust-building, and the brain's adaptability. Real-world examples will illuminate the significance of authentic leadership in sculpting team dynamics.

    The Neural Tapestry of Authenticity

    Authenticity, the beacon of sincerity, resonates deeply within the neural fabric of the brain. A pivotal neural hub in this recognition process is the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a region integral to emotional processing and social cognition. The ACC acts as a discerning sentinel, evaluating verbal and nonverbal cues for congruence with genuine emotions and intentions. Additionally, the insula—a brain region nestled within the depths of the cerebral cortex—integrates sensory and emotional signals, further contributing to the brain's ability to detect authenticity.

    Imagine a scenario where a leader genuinely acknowledges a team member's efforts. The ACC and insula collaborate, detecting the leader's authentic gratitude through tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. This neural symphony reinforces the perception of genuine appreciation and sets the stage for trust and rapport.

    Consider the example of Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo. Nooyi's authentic leadership was demonstrated through her candidness about her personal challenges as a working mother. By sharing her struggles, she connected with employees on a human level, igniting a sense of authenticity within the company culture. The brain's neural pathways responded to her genuine expressions, fostering a more profound understanding of employee connection and trust.

    Authentic Leadership's Impact on Neural Plasticity

    Like a sculptor's chisel, authentic leadership molds the brain's neural pathways over time. Neuroplasticity—the brain's adaptive nature—responds to authentic interactions by fine-tuning neural connections. As leaders consistently model authenticity, the neural pathways associated with open communication, emotional intelligence, and trust-building flourish. This neural metamorphosis culminates in heightened emotional regulation and refined social cognitive skills.

    Consider a leader who shares personal experiences and vulnerabilities with their team. This authenticity nurtures a culture of openness, fostering neuroplastic changes that encourage team members to do the same. With time, the brain pathways align, amplifying emotional resilience and empathy throughout the team.

    Authenticity, Trust-Building, and Adaptability: A Neural Trio

    Authentic leadership stands as the cornerstone of trust-building—a process deeply rooted in the brain's adaptability. The brain's release of oxytocin facilitates trust, often referred to as the "trust hormone." Genuine interactions trigger oxytocin release, forging neural pathways that associate authenticity with safety and affiliation. These pathways facilitate open communication and collaboration, anchoring authentic leadership in the neural bedrock of team dynamics.

    Picture a leader who fosters a culture of openness and honesty. The brain's neuroplasticity blossoms as oxytocin flows, fortifying neural connections that promote trust and collaboration. This intricate dance of neural chemistry and authenticity cultivates an environment where teams thrive.

    Real-World Examples of Authentic Leadership's Impact

    Nelson Mandela: Mandela's authentic leadership during South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy showcased his unwavering commitment to justice and reconciliation. His genuine efforts to bridge divides resonated deeply, inspiring trust and collaboration among diverse communities.

    Sheryl Sandberg: As the COO of Facebook, Sandberg's openness about her challenges as a working mother exemplifies authenticity. Her TED Talk on "Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders" revealed vulnerabilities, fostering a culture of empathy and understanding.

    Elon Musk: Musk's candidness about failures and setbacks in his entrepreneurial journey demonstrates authenticity. His willingness to admit mistakes and embrace transparency resonates with employees and stakeholders, fostering an environment of growth.

    Howard Schultz: Former CEO of Starbucks, Schultz's commitment to social responsibility and employee well-being reflects authentic leadership. His initiatives, such as offering healthcare benefits to part-time employees, highlight his dedication to values-driven leadership.


    The neural ballet of recognizing authenticity unfolds in the brain's anterior cingulate cortex and insula, where emotional processing and sensory integration converge. Authentic leadership—nurturing genuine interactions—casts an enduring spell on neural plasticity. As authentic leaders model sincerity, the brain weaves intricate pathways that resonate with emotional intelligence and trust. This authentic synergy is mirrored in the brain's release of oxytocin—a testament to the intertwined dance of authenticity, trust-building, and adaptability.

    Real-world luminaries like Mandela, Sandberg, Musk, and Schultz serve as beacons of authentic leadership. Their profound impacts on team dynamics are etched in the neuroplastic grooves of the brain. As we traverse the neural pathways that underpin authentic leadership, we unveil a narrative where authenticity transcends leadership—it becomes a journey of transformation, trust, and collective growth.


    Brown, B. (2018). Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. Random House.

    Edinger, S. K., & Kutz, A. (2019). Trust, Trustworthiness, and Trusting Behavior: A Cross-Cultural Study. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1681.

    Feldman, R., & Monakhov, M. (2012). Neonatal Oxytocin Pathways for Regulation of Social Engagement. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1259(1), 37-47.

    Goleman, D. (2006). Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. Bantam.

    Paul, S. (2019). Transformational Leadership and Oxytocin: Do Employees Perceive the Leadership Style of Their Managers Differently? Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 828.

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