Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who’s The Best IT Manager Of All?

by drjim on January 2, 2009

It Turns Out That An IT Leader's Emotions Are Often Reflected By Your Staff

It Turns Out That An IT Leader’s Emotions Are Often Reflected By Your Staff

Those boys who get locked up and do work on behavior neuroscience continue to come up with new and interesting discoveries all the time.  This time around they’ve made a stunning discovery that will have a long lasting impact on how IT managers do their job. Do I have your interest yet?

Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis have written an article in the Harvard Business Review in which they describe what’s been going on in the world of neuroscience. Neuroscientists have discovered something called “mirror neurons” that are spread out all over our brains. Our brains have lots and lots of neurons. This newly discovered type appear to mimic (or “mirror”) what someone else is doing.

These neurons were discovered by Italian neuroscientists who were studying one particular type of cell in a monkey’s brain. This cell only fired when the monkey raised its arm. One day an assistant in the lab raised some food to his mouth and the cell in the monkey fired.

What this all means is that when we detect someone’s (consciously or unconsciously) emotions by observing their actions, these newly discovered mirror neurons reproduce the emotions that we believe that they are feeling. Taken all together, these neurons allow us to create a virtually instant sense of having a shared experience.

Why do we care about all of this brain stuff? It’s the key to being a great IT leader. It turns out that your emotions and your actions are what your department / team are going to be mirroring. If you can activate the mirror neurons in those who are following you, then you will have tapped into a very powerful force.

Additional studies that have been done on groups to measure the effects of activating these neurons has revealed even more. It turns out that when you are addressing your department / team, HOW you communicate is much more important than WHAT you communicate.

This means that if you want to get the best performance out of your team, you need to be demanding (of course) but do in in such a way that creates a happy positive mood in you team. This is all based on the simple fact that when your people feel better, then you’ll get better performance out of them.

Which now brings us to the subject of laughter. I’m not talking about having your team laugh at you (they may already be doing this). Instead, I’m talking about how often you get your team to laugh with you. Studies have shown that the best IT leaders got their employees to laugh on average three times as often as did midperforming IT leaders.

When you are in a good mood, this helps the people who work with and for you to both take in the information that you are providing as well as react quicker and with more creativity.

How often do you make your team members laugh? Have you found that your emotions cause your team to feel the same way that you do? Do you often find yourself feeling the same way that your boss is feeling? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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