Home > NewsRelease > Neuroplasticity and How It Can Benefit Leaders Part 1
Neuroplasticity and How It Can Benefit Leaders Part 1
Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP --  The Herman Group Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP -- The Herman Group
Austin, TX
Wednesday, November 16, 2022


The Herman Trend Alert

November 16, 2022

Neuroplasticity and How It Can Benefit Leaders Part 1

In 2021, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) published an article titled, "Our Brains Were Not Built for This Much Uncertainty." The article detailed the challenges our brains faced during the pandemic, starting with the premise that "our brains were not built for this much uncertainty." Then again in the September-October issue, HBR published another article on our high levels of stress post-COVID. Scientists used to believe that the brain couldn't change over time. We now know that is not true. We can change our brains multiple times throughout our lives. What these times demand of us is something called "Neuroplasticity."

What is Neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity or brain plasticity is the inherent ability of the brain to adapt and change in reaction to internal and external stimuli. Our brains can change their functions and even their physical structure to react to inputs from events, human emotions, thoughts, and experiences as well. Until recently, scientists believed the brain was finite and that the few billion neurons we were born with would not regenerate. Scientists also assumed that our brain cells would die over time, and since they didn't regenerate, we would die too. Now we know that our brains can evolve by reorganizing neural pathways, making new connections, and even regenerating neurons---the nerve cells that are the building blocks of the brain and the whole nervous system.

The Discovery of Neuroplasticity

In 1948 Polish researcher Jerzy Konorski first used the term "neuroplasticity" to describe the physical changes he observed in the brain's structure. Many years later, additional studies pointed to the fact that stress on the brain could change its physical structure as well as its processes and functions.

Two Types of Neuroplasticity

Research tells us that there are two kinds of neuroplasticity: Functional and Structural. In Functional Plasticity the brain moves its processes and other functions from a damaged area to other areas that have not been affected by the trauma. In Structural Plasticity, following a learning event, we see the brain's capacity to change and reshape its actual physical structure. Our brains can use their neuroplasticity to establish good---and not-so-good habits. (I have personally found that sticking to routines helps me to establish those good habits.)

Three Factors Affecting Neuroplasticity

Since changes occur mostly in the early stages of life, when the brain is still developing and even growing, it is not surprising that Age and Environment are two of the key factors affecting neuroplasticity. When brains are younger, they tend to be more susceptible to environmental and other outside inputs. Fortunately, we can rewire our brains at any point in our lives. The third important factor is Genetic Predisposition. In other words, the outcome of an individual's neuroplasticity may also depend on genetic heredity. Plus, while the brain is growing, it also interacts with its environment, so the particular genes we are born with are the baseline. However, the great news is that we know there is a lot we can do beyond our given genetic constitution. Most of us can go beyond our given DNA to contour our brains and rewire new pathways.

Neuroplasticity and Leadership

A couple of weeks ago now, I attended the Enterprise Agility World Conference and I learned that we need to be more sensitive to the needs of some of our employees, particularly those who may be more emotionally fragile as the result of COVID or other stressors. As a leader, you know that you can say anything to some of your direct reports, while others, when you simply make an idle comment, they will interpret your innocent remark as criticism. If you can shift your communication style---using your own neuroplasticity---you will be much more effective with those folks. On the other hand, providing additional coaching to those who need it, will help them to have greater neuroplasticity, and that will help them to be more productive and successful.

A Mobile App to the Rescue

The Ingomu mobile coaching platform can provide that extra support your people who need it. The platform has coaches who can help your employees cope with stress and experience a higher level of wellbeing. Ingomu offers a wide variety of coaches in areas of life, career, wellness, and work.

Next Week's Herman Trend Alert: Neuroplasticity Part 2

There is so much to cover in this area of Neuroplasticity that this week, I am just scratching the surface; it will take me two weeks to cover it all. Next week, I will cover some important information including how to create new behavior patterns using neuroplasticity and even how to use neuroplasticity to overcome bad habits.

Pickup Short URL to Share
News Media Interview Contact
Name: Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP
Title: Certified Speaking Professional and Management Consultant
Group: The Herman Group
Dateline: Austin, TX United States
Direct Phone: 336-210-3548
Main Phone: 800-227-3566
Cell Phone: 336-210-3548
Jump To Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP --  The Herman Group Jump To Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP -- The Herman Group
Contact Click to Contact
Other experts on these topics