In a world first, CEO and founder of the Langley Group, Sue Langley, has been awarded the first Masters in the Neuroscience of Leadership from Middlesex University.

The rigorous four-year research degree, offered in association with the NeuroLeadership Institute, is the only program that awards a formal academic Masters in this field. Launched in 2010 after the success of the Certificate in the Foundations of NeuroLeadership, it provides the most in depth credential in this emerging discipline to leadership development experts from around the world.

Sue is the first of a select international cohort to complete the program.

“The qualification shows how widely accepted neuroscience has become within leadership development,” says Sue, a leading adviser in Australia on the practical workplace application of emotional intelligence, positive psychology and neuroscience.

“Back in the early 2000s, when I was first introduced to the role brain science plays in understanding how we make decisions, solve problems, regulate emotions and change behaviour, it was very much a fringe area. Now we can measure what’s actually happening in the brain and apply that knowledge to help people manage themselves and become more effective.”

The term NeuroLeadership was coined by David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work (2009), and a fellow Australian. Rock is co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, a global research group whose annual Summit is a nexus for neuroscientists, psychologists and business leaders to discuss breakthroughs in brain research and the implications for individuals and organisations. Now in its 7th year, the NeuroLeadership Summit kicks off in Sydney in 20 June, before moving to London and Washington.

Langley’s research builds on some of the most cutting edge and cross-disciplinary areas of the field.

“It is well established that the brain changes through effort and frequent practice. This capacity is known as neuroplasticity,” she explains. “I wanted to explore whether we can consciously manipulate our brain in order to become smarter and more creative in the moment.” By activating specific areas of the brain through conscious attention she demonstrated that people perform better on creative and cognitive tasks.

Langley will be sharing her innovative research and practical applications in Harvard in June at the NexusEQ emotional intelligence and neuroscience conference.

She hopes her research will help change the way we approach and develop people. Rather than considering our creativity and cognitive capability as fixed, these abilities are more adaptable than we think. Leaders are under increasing pressure to deliver innovative outcomes and perform under stress. Training people to manage their brain to perform everyday tasks with more focus and awareness, as Langley does in her leadership programs for top organisations, increases their intelligence and creativity.

Langley says her research was initially considered unusual. She drew on creative insight research by Mark Beeman of Northwestern University and some controversial studies by Richard Davison, a neuroscientist who works closely with the Dalai Lama. Davidson’s research used brain imaging technology on Buddhist monks and veteran meditators to learn how their training affects mental health. By consciously dialling up or dialling down levels of compassion, Davidson and his team showed that brain activity could be changed to make people more empathetic.

“You don’t have to be an expert meditator to change your brain, my research and my experience shows that. With the right brain training anyone’s mind can be transformed.” Langley is known for her ability to synthesise science into simple, practical tools anyone can understand and use.

In an upcoming ABC-TV show, Redesign My Brain, she joins a panel of the world’s top neuroscientists, including Beeman, to put brain plasticity to the test. Over a series of experiments, Todd Sampson (Gruen Planet, Gruen Nation) will experience a radical brain ‘makeover’. Sue is training him in emotional intelligence techniques to manage emotions such as extreme fear in order to achieve remarkable feats. Brain scans will monitor how his brain changes throughout the program.

The series, produced by Mindful Media, will air later this year.

Sue Langley provides training in neuroscience of leadership and emotional intelligence for organisations through the Langley Group. Public programs are help in Melbourne and Sydney.

Contact Sue Langley on +61 2 9969 0337 or sue (at) langleygroup.com.au.

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