RemotelyMe Profiling System Valildation
RemotelyMe Triune Brain Profiling System validation
Validation and application of the ™ (CQ) visual neuroscience profiling methodology and framework
Research study completed by:
Dr. Aaron Aronow, MD, USC
Dr. German Fresco, PhD, neuroscience
William Reed, MBA; Neuroscience Certification, Harvard University
Updated December 2022
Patent Pending, © 2022 Aretanium Executive Group, Inc. dba RemotelyMe
All rights reserved
This research study validates a new approach to personality profiling and brain balance scoring based on visual neuroscience storytelling and behavioral science rather than the observational models of the past, including the OPQ-32, Myers-Briggs, Predictive Index, Culture Index, Pymetrics, Kolbe, Six Working Geniuses, StrengthsFinder, the BIG-5, DiSC, Fisher, Hogan, the Enneagram, and other profiling models. Ideally, the potential wide range of applications includes talent acquisition, employee profiling and engagement, job satisfaction and retention, team building, and professional productivity through the understanding trust factors, soft skills, leadership situations, professional strengths, introversion/extroversion, and personal attributes based on a visual neuroscientific approach. CQ is the first and only assessment system to equate these factors with measured elements for neurotransmitter and brain chemical levels and/or sensitivities. Further, the CQ assessment and C-QUIZ™ platform is the first to use neuroscientific evaluations to match profiles for top performing individuals against talent acquisition candidates to ensure optimal alignment for soft skills, trust factors, attributes, strengths, profile types, and culture fit.
Beyond talent acquisition, the CQ assessment model is in use by organizations, such as the Kollab Youth program sponsored by Wells Fargo, to support mentoring and internship programs, as well as educational program personalization. For the latter, the CQ 4STORY™ Framework offers a next generation approach to educational personalization beyond the widely accepted 4MAT framework.
CQ also has potential applications in sales and marketing to match prospects against Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) to facilitate Account-Based Marketing campaigns and sales prospecting initiatives. Additionally, CQ can used for a variety of other purposes such as marketing personalization for websites where in copy and images are changed on-the-fly based on profile types. Also, for eCommerce where specific products or services are recommended to individuals based on profile types.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS 5
LIST OF TABLES 7
Background of the Problem 9
Statement of the Problem 11
Purpose of the Study 12
Definition of Terms 12
Limitations of the Study 13
CHAPTER ONE 15
Aristotle’s Persuasion Model 15
Introduction and Overview 15
Aristotle’s Seven Positive Emotions 16
Historical Perspectives of Leadership Persuasion 17
Defining the Arguments of Persuasion 18
CHAPTER TWO 22
Modern Neuroscience 22
Introduction and Overview 22
Defining the Elements of Neuroscience 24
Relating Neuroscience to Modern Leadership 28
CHAPTER THREE 31
Current Personality Profiling Models 31
Introduction and Overview 31
Ancient Personality Profiling Models 32
The Development of Modern Personality Profiling Models 35
Modern Professional Personality Profiling Models 36
CHAPTER FOUR 40
Defining a Neuroscience-Based Framework 40
Introduction and Overview 40
Neuroscience-Based Personality Profiling 44
Relating Neuroscience-Based Profiling to the Enneagram 46
CHAPTER FIVE 50
Validation of the alignment between primary neurotransmitters and brain chemicals and personality and “brain type” profile testing 50
Introduction and Overview 50
CHAPTER SIX 57
Creating an Effective Neuroscientific Leadership Implementation Plan 57
Introduction and Overview 57
A Model Implementation Plan to Improve Recruiting, Morale, and Productivity 57
The Development of a Neuroscience-Based Leadership Priority Planner 59
The Development of a Neuroscience-Based Leadership Decision-Making Model 62
CHAPTER SEVEN 66
Field Analysis of an Effective Neuroscientific Profiling Implementation Plan 66
Introduction and Overview 66
Narrative Analysis Goals and Strategies 67
Guidelines for Participation and Selection of Participants 69
Selection of Narrative Analysis Questions 70
Results of Narrative Analysis 73
CHAPTER EIGHT 86
Introduction and Overview 86
Implications and Future Research 88
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant One. 51
Table 2: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Two. 53
Table 3: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Three. 54
Table 4: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Four. 55
Table 5: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Five. 56
Table 6: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Six. 57
Table 7: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Seven. 58
Table 8: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Eight. 59
Table 9: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Nine. 60
We would like to express appreciation to those individuals who graciously provided research information and study participation.
Background of the Problem
A Gallup poll conducted in 2015 (Weber, 2015) revealed that more than one million U.S. workers found that the number one reason people quit their jobs is poor leadership. In the 2013 Gallup State of the American Workplace study, researchers determined that only one-third of workers are engaged in their jobs, leaving more than two-thirds who are completely or partially disengaged (Gallup, 2013). The estimated cost to U.S. firms is over $500 billion each year in lost productivity and revenue.
Gallup studies (Weber, 2015) have concluded that workgroups with bad leaders are 50 percent less productive and 44 percent less profitable than well-managed teams. A Barna Group study found that two in five Americans rank their boss as “bad” and just one in five assigns only positive attributes (Barna, 2015).
Researchers from Eastern Kentucky University’s Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program uncovered that workplace stress is costing U.S. firms $300 billion each year for health care and lost work days. They suggested that 77 percent of workers exhibit physical symptoms caused by work stress and 60 percent said they wanted a new career (Smith, 2016).
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) predicted that every time an organization replaces a salaried employee, it costs between six to nine months of salary (Society, 2015). The Center for American Progress reported that for an educated executive, the cost is 213 percent of annual salary (Boushey & Glynn, 2012).
Quimet (2012), writing for Inc. magazine, inferred that bad bosses aren’t just a concern, they’re bad for business. This report disclosed that 65 percent of employees would choose a better boss over a pay raise. Around one-third confessed to dialing back their productivity due to poor leadership. The Inc. study concluded that it’s not what bosses do that makes them bad, it’s what they don’t do.
The number one thing bad bosses don’t do, according to the study, is inspire their teams. They also don’t improve productivity, as they accept mediocrity. Further, they don’t provide a clear vision and are not good team leaders.
Bad team leaders are not limited to the United States. The Chartered Institute of Management found that almost half of all workers in Britain left at least one job solely because of a bad boss (British Broadcasting Corporation, 2009). In Australia, around two-thirds of workers who responded to a CareerOne survey rated their leaders as either “horrible” or “average” (News.com.au, 2011).
Some of the world’s top neuroscientists, many of whom are associated with leading institutions such as Harvard University, have made new discoveries in the last decade about the human brain. Some of these insights may help leaders improve employee morale, productivity, and retention. For example, according to neuroscientist Dr. Paul Zak (2017), increasing oxytocin can enhance organizational trust and customer brand loyalty. Using mirror neurons can set proper examples for subordinates (Winerman, 2005), and research conducted by the London School of Business suggests that leaders employing neuroscience-based storytelling techniques can increase retention (Vermeulen, 2012).
Subsequent to the pandemic of 2020, in relation to more remote or hybrid working environments, an article titled It’s a Matter of Trust, published in HR Magazine—the premier publication for human resource professionals sponsored by the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM)—noted the following:
In its global CEO survey, PwC reported that 55 percent of CEOs think a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth. SHRM research shows that when there is more trust in the workplace, employees are 23 percent more likely to offer ideas and solutions. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer (a survey of 33,000 people in 28 countries), 1 in 3 people don’t trust their employer. According to Gallup research, employees who trust their employers experience 74 percent less stress and 40 percent less burnout. Also, 96 percent of engaged employees trust management compared to 46 percent of disengaged employees. Stephanie Stewart, SHRM CP, stated that “If employees feel trusted, they feel more engaged. Nobody likes to be micromanaged.” Gallup studies reveal that high-trust work environments have 50 percent higher productivity and 106 percent more energy. Highly engaged workers also drive 20 percent more revenue and profits.
A post pandemic Martec Group study shows that mental health and trust have declined while stress has increased by 42 percent. Prevalent systems to deal with these issues, such as wellness and mental health programs, have obviously failed to improve these statistics. Current approaches to personality profiling, especially those used for recruitment candidate screening, have also proven to be less than optimal in ensuring high-trust, low stress, well-balanced teams and working environments.
Statement of the Problem
The research noted above suggests that neuroscience usage and education can positively enhance the effectiveness of business leaders while improving overall employee engagement, productivity, and wellness. However, it is not enough for leaders to simply employ neuroscience and hope for the best. A proper framework and implementation plan is essential to ensure prompt results without negatively impacting moral or productivity.
The proposed research is designed to address the following question:
What components of recent neuroscientific research and what type of framework and implementation are optimal to ensure a timely and positive impact within a neuroscience-based leadership initiative that can be adapted for the modern organization with the goal of enhancing morale and productivity?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the proposed study is to develop a usable and simplified framework and implementation plan to utilize recent neuroscience research related to business productivity and employee engagement and wellness. This study will propose using a new approach to personality profiling based on modern neuroscience rather than the observation models of the past, including the OPQ-32, Myers-Briggs, Predictive Index, Culture Index, Pymetrics, Kolbe, Six Working Geniuses, StrengthsFinder, the BIG-5, DiSC, Fisher, Hogan, and the Enneagram profiling models. Ideally, the potential wide range of applications could enhance employee job satisfaction and improve productivity by adapting leadership skills to employees’ neuroscientific profiles. Furthermore, identification of a leader’s neuroscientific profile can enhance the ability to adjust the leadership style used based on the situation and the subordinate’s identified profile.
Definition of Terms
For the purposes of the present study, the following definitions of terms will be used:
Neuroscience. The field of study encompassing the various scientific disciplines dealing with the structure, development, function, chemistry, pharmacology, and pathology of the nervous system.
Leadership. An act or instance of leading; guidance; direction.
Personality. The sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual.
the organized pattern of behavioral characteristics of the individual.
Psychology. The science of the mind or of mental states and processes.
Persuasion. The act of persuading or seeking to persuade.
Framework. Work done in, on, or with a frame.
NLP. Neurolinguistics Programming.
Limitations of the Study
Neuroscience is still nascent, and information related to its usage for leadership models is scarce. Few leaders, recruiters, or HR professionals have embraced neuroscience as a leadership, employee engagement, or talent assessment framework, so direct results are also scarce. Limited time and resources make it impossible to conduct an extensive research project to validate all assumptions, theories, or recommendations. Therefore, this study relies primarily on direct field studies across hundreds of individuals; currently available research, published books and articles; and provides a theoretical framework model that interviewed leaders agree may be effective for improving professional leadership results. This study also relies on volunteers to complete the CQ profile test, HIPAA-compliant Health Assessments, and the neurotransmitter urine tests. Test results have been analyzed and normalized to determine alignment between neurotransmitter and brain chemical levels and self-identified profile types. Inaccuracies are inherent, but at a far lower rate than noted for other personality profiling tests that do not also align with brain science metrics.
Aristotle’s Persuasion Model
(Graphic created by the author, Aristotle 384-322 BC. White photo of the bust is from Wikimedia Commons, attributed to jlorenz1)
Introduction and Overview
Aristotle developed The Art of Rhetoric (Aristotle, 1992) starting in 367 BC, which detailed his triangle of persuasive arguments. Today, top speakers and leaders incorporate these principles into their speeches or approaches to persuade and inspire audiences and followers. The relevance this has as related to the topic of this study, specifically regarding the neuroscience of leadership, is in the relationship of this approach to the triune-brain neuroscience proffered originally by D. Paul D. MacLean in his book, The Triune Brain in Evolution (MacLean, 1990). Details about MacLean’s theories are covered in detail in Chapter Three. Based solely on observational science, Aristotle’s The Art of Rhetoric aligns with MacLean’s neuroscientific theories in that both subscribe to three appeals to three separate brain or persuasive centers that are more emotional, instinctual, or logical in nature. The relevance to today’s leaders is that it is apparent that Aristotle’s persuasive techniques may be utilized in tandem with modern neuroscientific knowledge about the art of persuasion.
Aristotle’s Seven Positive Emotions
One corner of Aristotle’s triangle, which he called pathos, is defined as a “pathetic appeal.” From an emotional perspective, pathos relates to feelings, suffering, pain, or calamity. Linguistic derivatives of pathos include empathy, sympathy, and apathy. The goal of the speaker or leader is to create a shared emotional bond or connection.
Top leaders use a rhetorical approach called enumeration, which is strengthened by making an emotional appeal three times in succession while using three related but different examples. The speaker or leader seeks to trigger key audience emotions that can set up subsequent calls to action, which might be to take out your wallet or approve a purchase order.
Aristotle recommended seven positive emotions, as compared to their contrasting negative emotions, to accomplish this goal:
● Calmness vs. Anger
● Friendship vs. Enmity
● Confidence vs. Fear
● Shamelessness vs. Shame
● Kindness vs. Unkindness
● Pity vs. Indignation
● Emulation vs. Envy
Historical Perspectives of Leadership Persuasion
When employed properly and passionately, with the right motives and intent, Aristotle’s pathos has been used effectively to move an audience to feel what the speaker or leader feels, which in turn creates a bond similar to what one might feel for a close friend or loved one. The right emotional appeal can allow a leader or speaker to connect with an audience and lay a solid foundation for the second mode of persuasion.
When one steps onto the stage, whether in front of a team, a large audience, or a single person, Aristotle notes that they must connect emotionally, which is what he called pathos. Once this has been accomplished, the speaker then needs to build credibility and trust, which Aristotle called ethos.
Aristotle used three additional terms to define his views about ethos. Phronesis means good sense. He explained that when we communicate, it should be relevant, tasteful, and appeal to the good senses of the audience. Arête is defined as good moral character. By showing honest vulnerability, authenticity, and true heart, a speaker allows the audience to experience arête. Finally, eunoia refers to goodwill. The audience needs to sense that the speaker’s intentions are selfless and that his or her honest goal is to be helpful by informing the audience about something important, such as a pending calamity or consequence.
The third leg of Aristotle’s persuasion triangle is logos. This is where the speaker can make a logical argument supported by facts, figures, numbers, validation, case studies, evidence, and reason. There are two types of arguments that ensure the speaker is properly delivering logos: deductive and inductive.
Defining the Arguments of Persuasion
Deductive reasons, or arguments, are generally based on specific premises, delivered in small steps, that are true. If one small premise is true, then the next, which builds upon the first, must also be true, and therefore the logical conclusion must be valid. Socrates also used this approach by effectively gaining agreement for a small truth and then using that as a stepping stone for the next one. For example, a leader might say to someone (response noted in italics):
“Do you agree that the sun will come up in the east tomorrow morning?”
“Yes, of course I do.”
“And that it will set in the west in the evening?”
“And do so again for the next 365 days?”
“Yes, without question.”
“And continue for all the years of your life?”
“Yes, for the rest of my life.”
“And that someday, for all of us, we will not witness this event once we’re gone?”
“Yes, sadly that is true.”
“And you have no idea when that day may come, correct?”
“Yes, I have no idea when that will be.”
“Therefore, it’s important to ensure that the family you leave behind is taken care of, yes?”
“Yes, very important.”
“Then wouldn’t you agree that it’s vitally important to have adequate life insurance?”
After having said “yes” seven times to small unarguable truths, it becomes almost impossible for someone to then say “no” to the final question.
Inductive reasoning, where the premises are not certain but offer strong evidence to support the truth, can also be used to invoke logos. One application of this uses reverse psychology to encourage someone to “sell themselves.” As an example, someone might employ this as noted in the following conversational example (audience responses noted in italics):
“Are you working with anyone to help you solve your issues, John?”
“Yes, Linda, I contacted another vendor and they’re researching answers now.”
“Did they inform you of the consequences of deploying an inadequate solution that does not offer a whizzle stick umptifrats?”
“No, they didn’t.”
“That’s very concerning, John. Without a whizzle stick umptifrats you could fry your whittle-me-rig. Even so, if you’re happy with the other vendor, then you probably would not entertain a second opinion at this point. I hope I’ve at least been of some help and would be happy to answer any questions you might have in the future.”
“Well, I haven’t pulled the trigger with them yet, Linda. Tell me more about this whizzle stick umpti-whatever.”
In this example, by offering a morsel of information that included strong evidence of truth, Linda used inductive reasoning to pique curiosity and then politely refused to satisfy the interest. She then used reverse psychology by stating that John might not be interested.
Like many ancient Greeks, Aristotle studied how humans act and react and are persuaded through speech and action. He obviously had no idea that, more than 2,000 years later, modern neuroscientists would not only validate his theories but discover why they work from a scientific standpoint.
Although Aristotle’s The Art of Rhetoric (Aristotle, 1992) was postulated in 367 BC, it appears to align with the triune-brain neuroscience described by D. Paul D. MacLean in his book, The Triune Brain in Evolution (MacLean, 1990). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Wolfgang, 2018) once said, “He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth.” This can be interpreted as not having the ability to learn from ancient wisdom may place one at a disadvantage. As such, leaders may be at a disadvantage by not learning and utilizing Aristotle’s persuasion theories to convince and motivate others to adopt their vision and follow their lead. Explored in the next chapter is the relationship of these theories to modern neuroscientific theory. Using only the available observational science of the times, Aristotle’s The Art of Rhetoric appears to align well with MacLean’s neuroscience-based theories. Both proffer that the human brain inputs and digests information from three different perspectives and in three differing ways that tend to be more emotional, instinctual, or logical. This theory, while observational and ancient, aligns perfectly with modern neuroscientific studies as noted in subsequent chapters.
Introduction and Overview
The late Dr. Paul D. MacLean, a renowned neuroscientist, postulated that humans don’t have just one brain, they have three. He shared this theory with the world in his 1990 book, The Triune Brain in Evolution (MacLean, 1990). The late MacLean believed that each of our three brains evolved over time and formed three layers, like the layers of a cake, one atop the other. He served as the director of the Laboratory of Brain Evolution and Behavior in Poolesville, Maryland, and commented that our three brains work like three interconnected biological computers, and they each have their own intelligence, subjectivity, and sense of time, space, and memory.
Some leading neuroscientists agree with MacLean while others do not. For example, Dr. German Garcia-Fresco is the director of the Adaptive Neuroscience Research Institute. He has a Ph.D. in molecular neurobiology from the University of North Carolina. He and his colleagues (also Ph.Ds.) published a paper titled “Neuroscience of Selling” (Fresco, 2015), wherein they refer to three brains—rational, emotional, and reptilian. Says Dr. Garcia-Fresco in an interview, “I agree that it’s not exclusive, but for the most part the human brain can be divided into three areas. The neocortex is more rational, or logical, and involved with reasoning and high-order thinking. The reptilian brain is the oldest part evolutionarily. It is more instinctual and consists of the brain stem and cerebellum. The limbic system or middle brain is where we find the hippocampus and amygdala, which produce most of our emotional chemicals and neurotransmitters.”
In contrast to Garcia-Fresco and other neuroscientists, Dr. Paul Zak, a neuroeconomics expert with a Ph.D. in economics, disagrees with MacLean and argues that the human brain is a more unified system that is diverse in structure, connection, and function. Those who side with McLean state that while Zak is correct, it is also true that certain areas of our brain are more involved than others with respect to emotional, instinctual, or logical thought processes and responses.
Says Dr. Garcia-Fresco in an interview, “There will always be controversy as the science is still maturing, but I think it is best to align with the science that is best supported and the least disputed.”
(Alain Lacroix, Dreamstime.com)
Defining the Elements of Neuroscience
The limbic system, or the paleomammalian brain as neurobiologists call it, is comprised of the hippocampus, hypothalamus, and the amygdala. Again, some experts disagree that this part of our brain is “more emotional,” however, leading neuroscientists to state that the amygdala is a critical center for coordinating behavioral, autonomic, and endocrine responses to environmental stimuli, especially those with emotional content (Edwards, 2005).
This area of the human mind is involved with love, excitement, heart rate, blood pressure, sweat glands, appetite, sexual desires, and the desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Areas in the limbic system are stimulated by mild electrical currents that invoke a myriad of emotions, including love, which is influenced by a neuropeptide hormone called oxytocin that is produced in the hypothalamus. For women, oxytocin is released during labor, breastfeeding, and sex. For men, it’s also released during sex, but far more so when there is a close bond, such as in a loving relationship. One study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, noted that oxytocin levels are higher in lovers as compared to single individuals and remains highest during the first six months of a relationship (Hurlemann, 2010, p. 4999).
The limbic system influences someone’s attention span, imprints emotionally charged memories, and determines valence—whether a person feels positive, negative, or neutral about something—and salience—whether something holds attention or stimulates creativity. The middle brain also influences value judgments, action rationalizations, and decisions about whether an idea or leadership vision is good or bad. Should someone become psychologically unhealthy, this part of the brain can invoke depression, paranoia, and addiction.
Most scientists agree with the biological fact that oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone” (MacGill, 2017) and has been dubbed the “hug hormone” and “bliss hormone” due to its effects on human behavior, most especially its role in love. Oxytocin is responsible for an emotional (loving) response, and it is produced in the limbic system.
Increasing the production of oxytocin also decreases cortisol levels. This hormone controls our instinctual fight-or-flight responses, which on a short-term basis can save a life by allowing someone to respond quickly to a threat or perilous situation. However, long-term cortisol production can be detrimental to someone’s health.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by the hypothalamus, which is located in the limbic system. Both MacLean and non-MacLean groups agree that dopamine is involved with memory, pain/pleasure responses, behavior, cognition, learning, moods, and more (Zak, 2017). It is released during pleasurable situations, such as the anticipation of or indulgence in something exciting, interesting, and fun—like having sex, eating a juicy hamburger, going on vacation, winning a contest, or completing an important goal.
Many other brain chemicals are involved with emotions, but two of the more important ones are directly related to love and pleasure. Dopamine and oxytocin are predominantly produced in the limbic system, which is why scientists who side with MacLean (1990) believe that the limbic system is more involved with emotional responses than other areas. They also note that this part of the brain does not respond well to a communication style and messaging that is more logical and that employs more facts, figures, written copy, graphs, charts, etc. Instead, pictures, video, audio, and tactile or olfactory (smell) stimuli are usually more effective at eliciting an emotional response. Given this fact, to impact teams emotionally, leaders should limit the use of spreadsheets and instead use more pictures, sounds, and vocal timbre.
The MacLean followers believe that the instinctual areas of the brain include the stem and cerebellum and are responsible for safety responses, harm avoidance, motor balance, and survival instincts, as well as involuntary actions such as heart rate and food digestion. The anti-MacLeaners do not completely concur, but biologically both camps agree that the vagus nerve, discussed earlier, originates from the brainstem (Zak, 2017). MacLeaners note that the brainstem is located in the reptilian brain or R-Complex (MacLean, 1990). Also, as we learned earlier, the vagus nerve is where the cortisol “antagonist” resides.
In Dr. Zak’s book, Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies, he states that “trust begets oxytocin” and “high levels of [chronic] stress inhibit the release of oxytocin” (Zak, 2017, p. 300). While this chemical obviously belongs in the emotional area, it is also the antidote to cortisol-triggered instinctual fight-or-flight responses.
In an interview, Dr. Zak says, “Think of trust as the biological basis for the Golden Rule: if you treat me nice, my brain makes oxytocin, signaling that you are a person whom I want to be around, so I treat you nice in return.”
The fear of pain is also an instinctual trigger. Norepinephrine is produced by the adrenal medulla, which is located in an adrenal gland atop the kidneys. Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) is released by the kidneys, but it affects a part of the brain called the locus coerules, which is located in the R-Complex brainstem. Given this fact, it’s possible that both the MacLean and non-MacLean groups are correct. The instinctual adrenaline hormones are not exclusively located in the brainstem, but that part of the brain does have some dominion over the norepinephrine neurotransmitter.
While still disputed by some neuroscientists, MacLean postulated that the reptilian brain (R-Complex) is the only part that most reptiles have (MacLean, 1990). A snake, therefore, only acts out of instinctual self-preservation.
Experts call this brain area the archipallium, primitive, or “basal brain.” The instinctual brain is involved in obsessive/compulsive, rigid, paranoid, and ritualistic behaviors. It is crammed full of ancestral memories and instincts and drives a person to repeat safe behaviors to ensure longevity.
The instinctual brain is always alert and never sleeps, which is why someone can be instantly awakened by a potential threat. It is motivated by fear of loss, harm, or conflict, and is involved with aggression, dominance, and repetition. Like the limbic system, the instinctual brain does not respond well to the written words, numbers, statistics or logic. It prefers sights, sounds, smells, and touch. Leaders who wish to motivate teams to follow them or follow instructions are best not to do so with a presentation or speech filled with numbers and graphs.
In summary, the “instinctual brain” governs norepinephrine, an adrenaline neurotransmitter involved in fight-or-flight responses. This part of our brain controls cortisol, which is the antistudy to oxytocin. Oxytocin release can foster more trusting and productive workers (Zak, 2017, p. 300). Limiting oxytocin and raising cortisol by using fear or other instinctual motivators may do just the opposite. Said Dr. Zak in an interview, “The science shows that fear-based management is a losing proposition because people acclimate to fear quickly. Fear-inducing leaders must ramp up threats to increase productivity, but there are only so many threats one can make.”
The neocortex is the area of that brain that experts like Dr. Paul Zak call the cerebrum, cortex, neopallium, neomammalian, superior, or rational brain (Zak, 2017). The neocortex takes up two-thirds of a human’s total brain mass. In animals, it’s just the opposite. With other mammals, the neocortex is much smaller and has far fewer folds, which is indicative of less development and complexity. Remove the neocortex from a rat and it will act like a rat. Remove the neocortex from a man and he’ll act like a vegetable.
The cortex is divided into two parts. Although most scientists agree that there is no such thing a “right brain versus left brain,” it is believed that this notion came from the fact that the left cortex controls the right side of the brain and vice versa. The non-MacLean dissenters do not agree that the neocortex reigns supreme over logical inclinations. However, ScienceDaily (2017) states that the neocortex is involved with the higher functions of the brain, including spatial reasoning, sensory perception, conscious thought, the generation of motor commands, and language processing.
Non-MacLeaners point out that the neocortex is not the exclusive host of logical thought or action (Zak, 2017) but do agree that persuading someone from a logical perspective is best achieved by using facts, figures, written words, research, graphs, etc., which will appeal more to the logical brain. Pictures, video, and audio can help reinforce concepts, but they will be more effective at stirring emotions than gaining rational agreement.
Relating Neuroscience to Modern Leadership
As discussed previously, Aristotle (1992) believed that to persuade, one needs to appeal to a person’s emotional, instinctual, and logical “brains.” Many neuroscientists concur that the primary chemicals, hormones, functions, etc. that trigger these three responses are created in or mostly affected by three parts of the brain.
Gerald Zaltman, a prominent neuroscientist from Harvard University, is the author or editor of over twenty books on various topics involving neuroscience. He stated that at least 95 percent of human cognition is subconscious, while high-order consciousness is only involved with about 10 percent of decision-making (Mahoney, 2003),
Dr. Zak agrees with Zaltman that more than 90 percent of decisions are ultimately made by the subconscious mind, which is usually not very logical. Therefore, a leader should not only win logical minds, but must also win emotional hearts and instinctual guts.
Zaltman patented some of his science under the term Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET). By employing ZMET, he explored unconscious behavior using emotional-response testing and metaphors to stimulate purchase scenarios. The objective was to create foundational advertising elements, such as images, for commercials. This work, combined with other discoveries made by Harvard researchers, led to a new field called neuromarketing, a term coined in 2002 by researcher Ale Smidts (Ariely, 2010).
The use of neuromarketing has expanded rapidly at Yahoo, eBay, CBS, Google, PepsiCo, Ford Motor Co., Hyundai, Hewlett-Packard, Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, and many other companies worldwide. Neuromarketing studies, combined with neuroscience validation, shows that the logical brain (neocortex) tends to respond better to text, words, numbers, graphs, charts, and other analytical or written content. The emotional brain (limbic system) and instinctual brain (R-complex) responds best to more visual, auditory, and tactile content such as video and pictures. Therefore, content and assets, including personality and professional assessment tests that are based on text and word questions can only appeal to about 10 percent of the decision-making brain, resulting in lower accuracy. Studies show that only 30 percent of individuals complete text or word-based tests as they also result in lower attention and retention.
While neuroscientists and neuromarketers would like to believe their discoveries and concepts are groundbreaking, Aristotle obviously had a glimpse of this concept when he created his persuasion model eons ago. Also, George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, a Russian philosopher and teacher (of Greek descent), often referred to humans as “three-brained beings” (Howell, 2012). One brain for the body (gut), one for the spirit (head), and one for the soul (heart). Plato referred to similar concepts, as did Kabbalah spiritual leaders.
Given that leaders lead people and not buildings, computers, or P&L statements, it stands to reason that an understanding of modern neuroscience and the triune brain as it relates to motivating employees, fostering a culture of trust, and increasing productivity can empower leaders to create more successful and profitable organizations.
Given the proven ineffectiveness and inaccuracies inherent in text and word-based profiling, what is needed is a groundbreaking new approach using visual neuroscience that appeals to 100 percent of the decision-making brain to improve retention and attention.
Current Personality Profiling Models
Introduction and Overview
The term psychology is derived from the Greek words psyche, meaning “spirit, soul, and breath,” and logia, which means “the study of something.” Psychology is the study of mental and behavioral processes—how humans interact with and react to the world around them. Ancient Greek philosophers were the founders of psychology, but the German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt set up the first “psych lab” back in 1879 (Kleinman, 2012, p. 7). Since then, the science has spurred dozens of studies and theories about what makes people “tick.”
One of the most well-known psychologists in history is Sigmund Freud (Kleinman, 2012, pp. 20-31). Born in 1865, Freud spent most of his life in Vienna, where he wrote three books about dream interpretation, psychopathology, and sexuality. He is remembered most for the latter, but Freud gave the world many of its modern concepts about the human id, ego, and superego. Freud observed that humans have three brains, but lacking neuroscientific knowledge, he did not understand why.
The id refers to that unorganized portion of the personality structure related to basic animal instincts and bodily needs. The id is motivated by pain and pleasure. Naturally, people want to avoid one and seek the other. As babies, all humans are controlled almost entirely by the id, which is why some people cry every time they get hungry. Some may still do that, even as adults.
As children become adults, they learn to control id impulses lest they pee in their pants or attack the waiter at a fancy restaurant with a fork rather than wait patiently to be served. Addictions and severe temper tantrums stem from an inability to properly control id impulses. The id is the raw animal within everyone, the untamed beast, unconcerned with right, wrong, good, evil, or morality. Within the id resides the instinctual drive to survive.
Superego is the learned rules, guidelines, boundaries, etiquette, and proper communication skills, such as flushing the toilet, saying thank you, etc. Most learned these appropriate behaviors from parents, teachers, siblings, friends, and so forth. When someone did something bad, they were given pain, such as a belt whipping from dad. When they did something good, they received a dose of pleasure, like ice cream from mom. The superego learned how to behave appropriately through this process of emotional pain and pleasure learning.
The ego deals with the part of personality structure that controls the perceptive, defensive, cognitive, and executive functions. Reason and common-sense stem from the ego. A primary ego function is to mitigate between the id and ego while striking the right balance between primitive drive and modern reality. The ego logically organizes thoughts and make sense of them. Unlike the id, where raw passions reside, the ego deals with reason and common sense. When the ego is healthy, people have better control over base instincts, such as the need to lash out in anger or run from potential conflict.
Freud’s conclusions intimate that the id is predominantly involved with instinctual brain functions. The ego appears to be more involved with emotional functions, and the ego is rational and pragmatic and more logical. Could it be that Freud had the same observations as the ancient Greeks? It appears that both proffered the concept that humans have three distinct brains that tend to be more emotional, instinctual, or logical.
Ancient Personality Profiling Models
(Peter Hermes Furian, Dreamstimes.com)
The Enneagram symbol is an interconnected circle made of nine points used to depict nine distinct personality types. Some people believe the ancient Greeks invented the diagram and science, but evidence of its origination can be found in four-thousand-year-old Pythagorean geometry. The Pythagoreans were an inquisitive bunch and were captivated by the deeper meaning and significance of numbers. Plato apparently studied the Enneagram theories and passed them on to his disciple Plotinus and other followers.
George Gurdjieff (Howell, 2012), a Russian teacher and follower of Freud, learned about the Enneagram in the 1920s while visiting a Sufi monastery in Afghanistan. Oscar Ichazo learned about it from Gurdjieff, and Claudio Naranjo heard about it from Ichazo. Robert Ochs and Helen Palmer researched the Enneagram by studying Naranjo’s concepts, but the most famous authors on the Enneagram are Riso and Hudson of The Enneagram Institute.
Some question whether the Enneagram is accurate. The ancient Greeks invented the water mill, odometer, alarm clock, cartography, geometry, medicine, philosophy, and democracy. They excelled in the fields of astronomy, biology, and physics. Aristotle postulated that our world was round, and the Pythagoreans proposed that the earth revolved around the sun. Archimedes discovered that submerging a solid object displaces a like measure of water. The Greeks weren’t infallible, but they were obviously highly observant and accurate. It is possible that the research conducted by the ancients on human personalities is bunk, but considering the advanced knowledge displayed by the ancients that used the Enneagram, this appears to be unlikely. Moreover, given recent discoveries made by modern neuroscientists, it is possible that the personality profiles outlined in the Enneagram are quite accurate.
The Development of Modern Personality Profiling Models
During the early 1900s, humanist psychologist Carl Rogers (Kleinman, 2012, pp. 115-118) proffered his “self theory.” He believed that all humans are infused with a single driving motivation: to self-actualize. He defined this state as achieving the highest level of “human-beingness.” Others have simplified this theory to being happy or filled with joy in every aspect of one’s life—including professions.
Modern psychology views personality through the lens of an individual’s emotions, behaviors, thoughts, actions, and reactions. These make people unique in relation to others and are referred to as mental models (Johnson-Laird, 2012, pp. 131-138). Although humans exhibit personality characteristics in individualized ways, there are definite commonalities. Traits remain relatively constant throughout one’s life. The caveat here is whether they are acting in healthy or unhealthy ways.
In addition, individual or not, people tend to behave in similar and sometimes predictable ways when faced with certain situations or decisions. Although the study of personality is decidedly a psychological science, many experts now agree that personalities are impacted by neurological wiring and processes. Some psychologists, like Sigmund Freud (Kleinman, 2012, pp. 115-118), subscribe to the “nature” theory, believing that biology (today more commonly referred to as neuropsychology) entirely governs our personalities. Others, like Alfred Adler (Kleinman, 2012, pp. 44-47), lean toward the “nurture” theory, in which personalities are governed entirely by experiences, environment, and societal factors.
Many other experts have a leg in both camps. They point to identical twins or triplets exposed to similar environments and home situations who exhibit completely different personalities. They claim that nature is to blame for core personality types but that different nurturing aspects can alter levels of psychological health and account for diverse individuality.
In the mid-1930s, Gordon Allport (Kleinman, 2012, pp. 176-177), a Harvard graduate, became the first psychologist in the United States to teach a class about personalities. He also created a trait theory that used more than 4,500 dictionary words to describe different traits. He divided these traits into three categories he named cardinal (individual), central (common), and secondary (conditional) traits. Years later, Raymond Cattell reduced Allport’s long list to 171 traits by combining and reclassifying similarities and removing uncommon ones. Using questionnaires completed by individual subjects, he narrowed the list even further to only sixteen types that included perfectionism, dominance, apprehension, warmth, etc. Allport’s observations provided some of the foundational elements used in the sixteen Myers-Briggs personality profiles.
Modern Professional Personality Profiling Models
Some psychological researchers refer to a five-factor model (Goldberg, 1992) when evaluating what they believe are five core attributes, or personality traits, displayed by individuals. Usually referred to as the “BIG 5,” the qualities determined include Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion-introversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. These five form the acronym OCEAN. To determine a person’s attributes, psychologists use question-based testing to measure the degree to which respondents believe they exhibit these traits.
The OCEAN model has been used to determine relationships between these attributes and personality traits for professional, academic, and social endeavors. Critics claim that the model has limitations given the small number of attributes evaluated and also that it is primarily a data-driven model that is not based on any psychological theories. Proponents argue that OCEAN can create consistent results and that psychological theories should follow and not precede a personality description. A six-factor model, called HEXACO, has been recently introduced that adds an honesty and humility factor to the OCEAN five behaviors. Neither of these models, however, are based on neuroscientific theories such as neurotransmitter or brain chemical balances.
OPQ32 is a personality “test” widely used in professional and employment circles for selection, development, team building, succession planning, and organizational change. The SHL Group, purveyors of the OPQ, completed a study in 2005 in concert with The Enneagram Institute and discovered that the nine personality types proliferated by the ancients are real and objective and stand on a par with Myers-Briggs, the Big Five, and other prominent psychological systems (Brown & Bartram, 2005).
The OPQ32, backed by hundreds of validation studies across tens of thousands of individuals, is one of the most widely used and highly regarded measures of personality in the workplace. Professors Dave Bartram and Anna Brown conducted an independent study of the Enneagram Institute interpretation made by Don Riso and Russ Hudson to see if it related to the OPQ32 and discovered a clear match (Brown & Bartram, 2005).
Bartram and Brown reviewed information from hundreds of volunteer participants from different countries. The results indicated a strong relationship between the nine Enneagram personality types and OPQ32 traits. In fact, based on a person’s OPQ32 profile, someone could predict the Enneagram type 75 percent of the time. One could do this only 11 percent of the time by guessing. The conclusion is that modern researchers have all but validated the observational science recorded by ancient researchers from as long ago as 2000 BC.
Helen Fisher's Personality Quiz has now been taken by over 14 million people in 40 countries. This quiz is one of the first to equate brain science to personalities, and was created to test the degree to which someone expresses four broad styles of thinking and behaving, each associated with one of four basic brain systems related to dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen. Fisher labels these four types as:
Explorer: those who primarily express traits linked with dopamine.
Builder: those who primarily express traits linked with serotonin.
Director: those who primarily express traits linked with testosterone.
Negotiator: those who primarily express traits linked with estrogen.
Studies show that it is not unusual to score equally on two (or sometimes three) of these temperament dimensions. Fisher initially designed the test to enable individuals to understand basic aspects related to their romantic partners, as well as attraction tendencies. The test was not designed to determine optimal profiles for employment or other professional uses, however, it has been used for this purpose by some organizations. While Fisher’s studies relate brain science to personalities, the approach still relies upon observation rather than tendencies based on neuroscience. For example, Fisher observed that individuals with certain serotonin setpoints tended to act in certain ways, rather than research how serotonin affects personality and tendencies (cause and effect versus effect and cause).
Virtually all personality profiling models have been based upon unscientific observational methods dating back thousands of years, beginning with the creation of the ancient Enneagram model. This methodology was not expanded upon until a few hundred years ago, when psychologists developed early personality profiling models, again based on observations.
More recently, respected institutions and researchers have expanded upon or streamlined historical personality profiling models to create frameworks and systems used primary for personal amusement and not for professional environments such as employment screening or jury selection. However, all these models still rely upon observational methods only—what has been observed across thousands of individuals—to create profiles that appear to be relatively correct. Modern neuroscience and research conducted by Ph.Ds. involved in this new field offer validation in some respects for these older models while providing the opportunity to create more effective frameworks based upon neuroscientific cause and effect. More importantly, as reviewed previously, virtually all current personality or professional performance assessment tests are text or word-based. They appeal to only 10 percent of the decision-making brain areas, which causes a “bad in, bad out” test result that lowers attention, retention, and accuracy.
Defining a Neuroscience-Based Framework
Introduction and Overview
A paper published in the Academy of Management Perspectives in 2011 titled Leadership and Neuroscience: Can We Revolutionize the Way That Inspirational Leaders Are Identified and Developed? (Waldman, Balthazard, & Peterson, 2011) explores the relationship between inspirational leadership and neuroscience. The authors noted that there are a number of indicators available to interpret brain activity, including coherence, which is an often-used metric for social cognitive neuroscience research. Coherence measures interconnection between areas of the brain, and can track coordinated activity or communication between brain regions. As such, coherence can be used to examine complex behavioral concepts such as inspirational leadership behavior.
The researchers determined that this type of behavior likely requires the use of multiple brain regions such as emotional and cognitive centers (Cacioppo, Berntson, & Nusbaum, 2008; Nolte, 2002). Percentages are used to report coherence. For example, 90 percent coherence indicates a high degree of coordinate activity between two brain areas, while 10 percent indicates less coordination.
Authors have commented on the importance of using an emotional component when expressing visionary communication that appeals to the beliefs and personal values of the listener to motivate and inspire (e.g., Boal & Hooijberg, 2001; Shamir et al., 1993). An emotional appeal is important from the perspective of what a leader experiences and shares to ensure listeners also experience these emotions so they will readily follow (Barsade & Gibson, 2007; George, 2000). This theory appears to align well with the emotional appeal expressed in Aristotle’s persuasion model discussed in the previous chapter.
Researchers (Boyatzis, R, 2011) have explored the relationship between activated brain regions and a leader’s ability to build resonant or dissonant relationships with followers (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2002). Using an fMRI-based study, they explored which neural mechanisms were invoked in resonant and dissonant leadership relationships. Middle-aged subjects were queried about specific incidents with leaders while the researchers conducted fMRI scans. Preliminary observations indicated that the recollection of resonant experiences stimulated 14 brain regions while dissonant situations activated 6 and deactivated 11 regions.
Resonant leader experiences activated neural systems involved with attention arousal (i.e., anterior cingulate cortex), the default or social network (i.e. right inferior frontal gyrus), the mirror system (i.e., the right inferior parietal lobe), and other regions associated with approach relationships (i.e., the right putamen and bilateral insula).
For dissonant leader experiences, systems deactivated included social or default networks (i.e., the posterior cingulate cortex) and the mirror system (i.e., the left inferior frontal gyrus). Activated regions included those associated with diminishing attention (i.e., bilateral anterior cingulate cortex), and with less compassion (i.e., left posterior cingulate cortex), and negative emotions (i.e., posterior inferior frontal gyrus).
This study indicates that positive or negative situations stimulated by specific leadership styles or approaches can activate specific brain regions that could evoke a positive or negative reaction on the part of the listener or follower.
A May 9, 2015 article in Psychology Today states that around 20 percent of the population is likely more emotionally sensitive in nature (Bergland, 2015). The article cites findings from University of British Columbia and Cornell University neuroscientists who discovered that human genes may influence how sensitive certain people are to emotional information.
In other words, some people may be genetically wired to be more emotional as compared to the average human being. Furthermore, Todd et al. (2015) determined that some people have a genetic variation called ADRA2b, which influences the norepinephrine neurotransmitter. ADRA2b is linked to heightened activity in certain brain areas that can trigger intense emotional sensitivity and responses.
To summarize, neuroscientists from two respected universities proffered research indicating that a percentage of the human population is genetically wired to be more emotional, which may be directly related to levels of norepinephrine. Furthermore, this research shows how the norepinephrine pathways connect directly to the hippocampus and amygdala, which are located in the limbic system.
Adam Anderson (University of British Columbia, 2015), professor of human development at Cornell University and senior author of the study, stated that emotions aren’t just about how someone feels about the world, but also how a person’s brain influences perception. Human genes can influence how a person visualizes negative and positive aspects in the environment.
The American Psychological Association (2018) defines personality as the differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Based on this premise, it appears that norepinephrine influences human personalities and that the levels of this neurotransmitter are genetically predisposed.
The research study referenced above also stated that there is reciprocal activity between norepinephrine and serotonergic and dopaminergic systems, which refer to serotonin and dopamine production, respectively.
Based on this recent research, it appears that neuroscience, and more specifically the balance between three primary neurotransmitters, may be directly linked to differences in personality and behavioral profiles. If so, how do these profiles relate to the ancient Enneagram or more modern frameworks such as the OPQ-32? Also, how can human resource and corporate leaders leverage neuroscience-based profiling to create frameworks that improve talent acquisition, trust environments, morale, retention, and productivity?
As previously noted, many experts agree that neurotransmitters and chemicals modulate brain activity in predictable patterns and influence how humans act and interact with others. Three primary neurotransmitters that appear to be more involved with personalities than others are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine (Thomas, 2016, pp. 173-178).
Dopamine is a basic modulator of attention, motivation, pain, and pleasure and regulates how we behave. Serotonin modulates obsession, compulsions, and psychological well-being and regulates how someone feels. Norepinephrine is involved with focused thinking, mental activity, alertness, and energy and regulates how someone thinks. Each neurotransmitter’s production, or level, is either high, medium, or low. Apparent levels can also be determined by the length of a neurotransmitter’s pathway in the brain. Neuron profiles are divided into three groups: logical, emotional, and instinctual.
(Illustration by authors)
Neuroscience-Based Personality Profiling
Many experts state that genetic predispositions may be factors that can cause low, medium, or high levels that can lead to certain disorders (Hariri et al., 2002, pp. 400-403). In his book, The Edge Effect, Dr. Eric Braverman (2004, pp. 18-26) shows how four main neurotransmitter or chemical levels in the brain can determine personality profiles. To validate this, he used a quantitative electroencephalogram (EEG) called BEAM (Brain Electrical Activity Mapping). Some skeptics question Braverman’s research and even his credibility, but his studies appear thorough and match research conducted by two PhDs interviewed for this study.
Most neuroscientists and biologists concur that dopamine is an assertive “power” neurotransmitter that dominates the frontal lobe. Braverman found that those with high dopamine levels enjoy power, theories, language precision, and strategy.
GABA is found in the temporal lobe. Those with high “calming” GABA levels are more traditional and conventional, dependable and punctual, and organized and confident. GABA is an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter that can lower “excitatory” ones, most especially norepinephrine.
Norepinephrine makes a person more alert and ready for active body movement, which increases energy use. Its effect can be offset by GABA and acetylcholine, which act on most of the same organs to make someone more conducive to calmness, rest, recovery, and food digestion.
Acetylcholine is related to motor and memory functions and is produced in the parietal lobes. Braverman says that individuals with high levels are more creative, empathetic, authentic, and benevolent. As noted above, it can affect norepinephrine production. One study (Granneman, 2015) shows a direct connection from this chemical to introversion and extroversion. Introverts apparently have long acetylcholine pathways. For extroverts, it’s shorter. Visualize a hose pumping water into the brain. A person will not necessarily have a higher “level” of water with a longer hose, but it will take longer to fill up the brain. This may be why introverts can handle large crowds temporarily but eventually grow weary of them, whereas with extroverts, the opposite is true.
Serotonin is in the occipital lobe and is associated with delta waves. According to Braverman, those with high serotonin are playful, adventurous, optimistic, achievement-oriented, and have a positive mental attitude.
If Braverman’s research is accurate, it could prove to be groundbreaking, but does it align with the ancient Enneagram?
Noted earlier, Helen Fisher conducted studies to relate serotonin, dopamine, estrogen, and testosterone to personality traits. Studies show that estrogen promotes synthesis, prevents degradation, and inhibits reuptake of serotonin. It also promotes the expression of serotonin receptors. Also, estrogen increases dopamine synthesis and decreases its degradation and reuptake. Obviously, Fisher discovered a connection between brain wiring and personality, but did not delve deeper understand how other neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine and GABA, are more related to personalities than estrogen and testosterone.
Relating Neuroscience-Based Profiling to the Enneagram
Two renowned experts interviewed for this study, Dr. Eric S. Schulze and Dr. Tina Thomas, conducted extensive neuroscientific research studies similar to Braverman’s. Dr. Thomas documented these findings in her book, Who Do You Think You Are?: Understanding Your Personality From the Inside Out (Thomas, 2016, pp. 18-26). These two Ph.Ds. discovered that the Enneagram’s observational science can be explained by genetically determined high, medium, or low levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
The ancient Enneagram’s nine types are divided into three distinct groups of three personality types each. The three groups, or triads, can be defined as “head types” (more logical), “heart types” (more emotional), and “gut types” (more instinctual). Schulze and Thomas discovered that thinking group types appear to have high levels of norepinephrine activity and are generally mentally active. The instinctual types have relatively low norepinephrine activity, and the heart types have medium levels.
How does their research compare to Braverman’s work? A close examination reveals that they are quite compatible:
Schulze and Thomas found that norepinephrine regulates how quickly and how often a person thinks and solves problems. Thomas reports that “people who have a high set point of norep (norepinephrine) are people whose brain ‘engines’ are set at a high idle. They are almost always revved up and ready to think.” They also tend to speak quickly and may be perceived as “high-strung” individuals. They may have difficulty “turning their brain off,” so sleeping soundly could be a challenge. People in this category are logical “head types.”
Those with low levels are referred to as the three instinctual “gut” personality types. They are more solid and steady, traditional and conventional, dependable and punctual, organized and confident, and “calm.” They rarely have a problem falling asleep. Recall that GABA is calming and throttles norepinephrine, and Braverman said that those with high levels have similar attributes. High GABA and low norepinephrine are essentially equivalent, so it appears that the two viewpoints are similar.
Schulze and Thomas determined that people with medium levels of norepinephrine fall into the emotional and feeling “heart” triad. They are “intermittent thinkers” and may cycle in and out of daydreaming. These types are also more creative, caring, and empathetic. Braverman said that those with high levels of acetylcholine are creative, empathetic, authentic, and benevolent. The effects of norepinephrine are offset by acetylcholine, so it’s quite possible that high levels of the latter will create medium levels of the former.
Braverman said that those with high levels of dopamine are assertive and enjoy power, precision, and strategy. Schulze and Thomas concurred. They showed high dopamine types as falling into the assertive triad and liking power, control, precise diction, and strategic goal setting. This is also in close alignment. Schulze and Thomas also noted that dopamine levels can dictate whether or not someone is more extroverted or introverted.
Schulze and Thomas showed high serotonin types as being in the “positive outlook” triad. Braverman said these individuals are playful, adventurous, and have positive orientations.
Based on the above research, it may be possible to conclude that:
1. Personality types are influenced by a small number of primary neurotransmitters and brain chemicals.
2. The levels (production) of norepinephrine and serotonin neurotransmitters are either high, medium, or low, which creates nine distinct personality types. Levels of dopamine and acetylcholine impact extroversion and introversion and create what is referred to as “wings,” meaning that someone may tend to have a few of the attributes of an adjacent personality type.
3. The nine types described by the ancient Enneagram align closely with the neurotransmitter studies done by leading researchers.
4. Recent research conducted by teams at the Academy of Management Perspectives and other renowned organizations validate that leadership communication approaches can impact emotional and logical coherence between brain centers.
5. The Enneagram aligns with validated personality profiling systems such as the OPQ32.
Validation of the alignment between primary neurotransmitters and brain chemicals and personality and “brain type” profile testing
Introduction and Overview
Basis of the clinical study…
Across more than a decade of projects completed for such clients as Adobe, Avnet, Arrow, Booz Allen Hamilton, Blackberry, Cisco, HP, Logicalis, LogMeIn, Oracle, SAP, Symantec, Visa, and many others, thousands of individuals completed various versions of the CraniumQuiz™ test to create various versions of the CareerQotientAdditionally, the ENGAGE86 app extension for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers was used to analyze LinkedIn profiles and determine CraniumQuotient results. Hundreds of individuals wherein profiles were determine subsequently engaged with researchers on video or audio calls or in live meetings. Researchers queried these individuals to validate personality and other test findings. Final results indicated the following:
91.3% match with full CareerQuotient results based on subject interviews
76.7% match with RemotleyMe profiling app results based on subject interviews
Study details and validation are provided in the Index section.
The ZRT Laboratory neurotransmitter urine kit includes measurements for the following:
• NeuroAdvanced Profile – GABA, Glu, Gly, DA, Epi, NE, HIST, 5-HT, PEA, DOPAC, HVA, 5-HIAA, NMN, VMA Trp, Kyn, 3-OHkyn, Tau, Gln, His, N-MeHist, Tyra, KynAc, Xanth, Tyr & Crtn (Sample Report)
• Optional add-ons:
• Saliva Hormones add-on – E2, Pg, T, DS & C
• Urine Hormones add-on – E2, Pregnanediol, Allopregnanolone, Androstenedione, T, Epi-T, DHT, DHEA, & 5α,3α-Androstanediol
• Diurnal Cortisol add-on – Free Cortisol x 4 & Free Cortisone x 4
• Diurnal Cortisol & Melatonin add-on – Free Cortisol x 4, Free Cortisone x 4 & Melatonin (MT6s) x 4
• Diurnal Cortisol, Norepinephrine & Epinephrine add-on – Free Cortisol x 4, Free Cortisone x 4, NE x 4 & Epi x 4
• Diurnal Cortisol, Melatonin, Norepinephrine & Epinephrine add-on – Free Cortisol x 4, Free Cortisone x 4, Melatonin (MT6s) x 4, NE x 4 & Epi x 4
• Urine Toxic & Essential Elements add-on – I, Se, Br, Li, As, Cd & Hg
Base on urine tests with dozens of individuals, researchers determined the following results:
• 87.4% match for serotonin levels in individuals determined by CareerQuotient tests to be in the high serotonin category.
• 83.5% match for dopamine and acetylcholine levels in individuals determined by CareerQuotient tests to be introverted (high acetylcholine) or extroverted (high dopamine) categories.
• 89.6% match for norepinephrine levels in individuals determined by CareerQuotient tests to be in the high norepinephrine category.
Triune Brain Profiling System™
Studies and research conducted by leading experts and neuroscientists have revealed the following:
• Most personality and professional assessment tests consist of 40 to 100+ “either/or” or similar text or word-based questions
• These tests average 30 to 60 minutes in length
• Text and word-based profiling tests appeal to only 10 percent of decision-making brain areas
• Given test length and lower attention appeal, these tests have a 70 percent non-completion rate
• Due to the above issues, accuracy for these tests have been questioned by leading psychologists
The London School of Business and other studies have validated a 1400 percent increase in retention and attention for visual storytelling content as compared to text or word-based content.
Therefore, a new profiling model is needed that transcends inaccurate word and text-based tests that does for visual assessments what Zoom did for visual communications. This new model needs to equate neurotransmitter and brain chemical setpoints or sensitivities to personalities, tendencies, attributes, strengths, weaknesses, soft skills, and trust factors. Moreover, the assessment needs to be short, preferably less than 10 minutes in length, and use visual elements such as video.
The Triune Brain Profiling System is designed to accomplish this with a proven nine minute video and graphic-based assessment that uses visual elements to determine levels of dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and GABA. The system is designed to equate visual responses to setpoints and sensitivities based on scientifically research and studies, as noted earlier, that validate effects for these neurotransmitters and brain chemicals on the brain. In turn, given the brain effects, the system shows a direct link between brain impact and personalities, tendencies, attributes, strengths, weaknesses, soft skills, and trust factors.
The below graphics illustrate how this model is designed.
As shown, high norepinephrine types have more neocortex stimulation and dominance, and are therefore more logical, analytical, and thinking types. If they also have high serotonin, they will be more sensitive in nature. If medium, more judging, and if low, more perceiving. The model provides details for each type based on this overview. Any type with high dopamine will be more extroverted, and with high acetylcholine will be more introverted.
Those with low norepinephrine will be more instinctual, wherein the R-complex part of the brain becomes more dominant. Serotonin levels will have similar effects as for logical types. Those with medium norepinephrine will be driven more by emotional factors, and will also have similar profiles based on serotonin levels.
For all types, as validated by neuroscientific and professional development studies, oxytocin is directly related to trust factors. Individuals with low oxytocin may have difficulty trusting or functioning in a high-trust environment, and vice versa.
Regardless of the approach implemented, human resources professionals and executives should be concerned with the legality of pre-employment tests and assessments. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) outlines guidelines related to proper and improper questions that can be asked. According to leading employment law firms, it is legal for an employer to require a test or assessment prior to offering candidates employment. Any test or assessment, however, must adhere to specific professional standards that include having an appropriate intended use. Otherwise, the test or assessment could be discriminatory and may not be legal or valid. The EEOC defines discrimination mistreating someone unfairly who is in a protected class, such as:
• Race or nationality
• Sex or gender
• Sexual orientation
• Age or disability
A pre-employment assessment asking questions about these protected areas that aren’t relevant to the position (age, disabilities, etc.) may not be legal. The EEOC does not permit employers to ask such questions prior to hiring, whether during interviews or pre-employment testing. If a test assesses personality traits, aptitudes, attributes, tendencies, soft skills, trust factors, etc. without using discriminatory questions, most legal professionals agree that employers are legally held harmless.
The Triune Brain Profiling System is designed to comply with all EEOS requirements related to discrimination, and has been reviewed by a leading employment attorney to ensure compliance.
Creating an Effective Neuroscientific Leadership Implementation Plan
Introduction and Overview
As noted previously, many neuroscientists believe that personalities, attributes, and tendencies are related to three primary neurotransmitters that modulate brain activity in predictable patterns and influence how humans act and react to the world. Again, these neurotransmitters are norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. Counter or related to these are GABA, oxytocin, and acetylcholine.
Someone’s neurotransmitter chemical levels and/or sensitivities are either high, medium, or low, and if the levels are out of balance, a person can become psychologically or physically unhealthy. For example, a serotonin deficiency can cause migraine headaches, nausea, appetite issues, depression, and anxiety. Something as simple as drinking too much coffee can affect dopamine levels and make someone irritable. Conversely, as previously noted, Dr. Paul Zak and others have shown that effectively raising oxytocin levels can increase trust and therefore employee satisfaction and productivity.
A Model Implementation Plan to Improve Recruiting, Morale, and Productivity
Dr. Paul Zak (2017) conducted experiments showing the connection between raising oxytocin levels and increasing trust in work environments. He offered eight management behaviors that foster trust that are measurable and can be managed to improve employee performance:
1. Recognize Excellence—publicly reward top performers
2. Induce “Challenge Stress”—create moderate job stress via attainable goals
3. Ensure Work Autonomy—trust workers to complete projects in their own way
4. Enable Job Freedom—allow people to select the most rewarding projects
5. Share Company Information—a well-informed employee is a happier employee
6. Build Relationships—less task-orientation and more relationship-orientation
7. Encourage Wellness—facilitate personal growth along with professional growth
8. Show Vulnerability—leaders should ask for help to encourage cooperation
As noted by SHRM experts and studies completed by Gallup and leading neuroscientists, high-trust organizations result in dramatically higher productivity, energy, profits, and revenue. Also, dramatically lower stress and absenteeism. Therefore, the ability to screen and assess candidates for recruitment and talent acquisition to determine approximate levels of oxytocin—validated by experts as an accurate trust factor measurement—can ensure employees who can trust and be trusted in a high-trust environment. Also, implementing employee engagement and professional development programs to increase workplace oxytocin levels will drive the results desired.
Furthermore, such a system will provide far more accurate results for soft skill evaluations as compared to observational profiling systems such as Predictive Index, et al. SHRM studies show that 92 percent of recruiters concur that when candidates fail in a new job, it is primarily due to improper matching of soft skills with job requirements and company culture. Furthermore, ensuring proper team fit can be crucial. For example, an individual with rigid right/wrong rules-based attributes were clash with more creative non-rules-based individuals. Strong controlling types may clash with more peaceful types, and so on. Conversely, too many individuals of the same profile type on a team could result in “group think” that may drive undesired results.
A system based on validate brain science to screen and assess individuals prior to hiring, and then ensure proper team complements and balance, and further create an environment of trust, can drive the results noted by numerous studies: 106 percent more energy, 74 percent higher productivity, 20 percent higher revenue and profit, and 76 percent less stress.
The Development of a Neuroscience-Based Leadership Priority Planner
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven R. Covey, popularized a matrix grid with four quadrants called the Time Management Grids. This matrix was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Clear, 2014), who once said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Eisenhower placed tasks or projects that were urgent and important in the upper left quadrant of the matrix for immediate action. Items that were not urgent or important went into the upper right quadrant for further decision. Not important but urgent items went in the lower left for delegation, and not urgent and not important items went in the lower right for deletion.
(Jaroslav Frank, Dreamstime.com)
This grid provides a simplified means to keep leadership priorities straight. However, Eisenhower created this grid decades before modern neuroscientists had a more mature understanding of how the human brain works. In today’s dynamic and hectic world, leaders may need a better way to simplify projects and tasks and prioritize time.
Using a more neuroscientific approach to leadership decision-making, leaders might consider using three boxes to represent priority one, two, and three goals. Goal 1 is the most important goal required to accomplish a leader’s purpose, vision, or mission identified for the organization, department, or team. This is similar to Eisenhower’s urgent and important grid. Goal 2 is the second most important goal to reach this objective, which is similar to the not urgent and important grid. Goal 3 is similar to the urgent and not important grid. There is no box for not urgent and not important, as it is not needed.
Leaders can then decide what percentage of team time will be devoted to each goal. Those with Lean and Six Sigma expertise often discuss the 80/20 Pareto principle, wherein 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. Translated for time management purposes, 80 percent of a team’s time should be spent on 20 percent of the projects or tasks—those which will gain 80 percent of the objective.
A leader might assign 60 to 65 percent of a team’s time to Goal 1, around 20 percent for Goal 2, and 15 to 20 percent for Goal 3. Note that goals 1 and 2 add up to about 80 percent, which aligns with the Pareto principle.
(Illustration created by the author)
The Development of a Neuroscience-Based Leadership Decision-Making Model
Psychologists and neuroscientists are beginning to understand what happens in the human mind (mental activity) and the brain (the physical region associated with the activity) when someone is required to make a decision (Schwartz, J. & Thomson, J., 2016). Making decisions and forming habits is influenced by neuroplasticity principles discovered by Canadian scientist Donald Hebb in the 1950s. He created Hebb’s law to summarize his findings: “Neurons that fire together wire together.” Regions of the brain that are frequently activated in tandem will become physically associated with each another over time. The more often a mental activity pattern of mental activity occurs, the more engrained the associated neural pathway becomes within the brain. Similar to a path that becomes worn through a forest by a continued use, it becomes easier for the brain to traverse well-used neural pathways. This implies that the more one makes similar decisions, the more the brain’s neural pathways will become accustomed to these types of decisions, making the decision-making task more automated over time.
Aristotle’s persuasion model, as discussed in Chapter One (Aristotle, 1992), suggests that humans need to engage all three parts of someone’s brain to persuade them. Making a decision also requires persuasion. Leaders may need to persuade themselves that they are making the right and best decisions and then persuade their teams to execute those decisions. The triune brain neuroscientific research noted earlier, as well as Aristotle’s persuasion model, intimates that persuasion requires engaging all three areas of the human brain—logical, emotional, and instinctual.
To accomplish this with teams, leaders might draw three vertical lines on a whiteboard, a PowerPoint slide, or other visual aid to create three columns. They can label the first column “emotional,” the second “instinctual,” and the third “logical.” In the emotional column, they should create purpose and passion statements that are emotional in nature, such as, “Our overarching purpose is to bring joy to millions of people by allowing them to connect and communicate easier with our solutions.”
They can then do the same in the instinctual column. They might write, “Our passion is to help our customers avoid risks and harm via solutions that offer greater security.” Finally, they can list logical statements, such as, “Our goal is to provide affordable ways to connect with solutions that are 50 percent more efficient than any others.”
When making major decisions, leaders can place the document in a prominent location. They can then encourage brainstorming sessions with their team and list all decision ideas or points on a whiteboard. Once there are several decision points on the board, the team can examine each one against the backdrop of the firm’s passion, purpose, and vision. They can then narrow the decision choices down to three finalists to simplify the process.
Now, leaders can draw two intersecting lines on the board, one vertical and one horizontal, to create four equal quadrants. They can label the upper left quadrant “emotional,” the upper right one “instinctual,” the lower right one “logical,” and the lower left one “summary.”
The team can examine decision possibility number one, and in the upper left quadrant, list three emotional reasons why this decision is a good one (fulfills the firm’s purpose) and three reasons why it’s bad. They can do the same for the instinctual and logical quadrants. The object of the exercise is to engage all three parts of everyone’s brain to make more balanced decisions. Once the team has listed three good and bad reasons in each quadrant, they can rank each with a number between one and five, with five as the most important. For example, if reason number one resonates strongly (i.e., it aligns well with the passion and purpose), then the team can rate it as a five. They can use negative numbers for the three reasons they should not make this decision.
Once all the reasons have been scored, the team can select the most important “should do it” and “should not do it” reasons from each quadrant and place them in the fourth bottom left quadrant. Then, they can add up the positive numbers for the three “should do it” reasons and compare it to the sum of the negative “should not do it” numbers. If the “should do it” number is higher, they may consider that course of action. If not, they can eliminate that option and re-evaluate.
In the visual example below, the decision to buy a convertible automobile or not is used. Some of the “should do it” reasons include less stress, less repair risk, and high maintenance costs for the current car. One can compare those against the “should not” reasons of more stress, more financial risk, and higher payments. In this example, the “should” reasons won so the decision-maker should buy the convertible.
(Illustration created by the author)
While neuroscientific studies and research are still nascent, and information relevant to its adaptation for a leadership frameworks is virtually non-existent, there are studies, books, papers, and research reports that leaders can leverage to create usable leadership strategies, frameworks, and models. Employing strategies to increase oxytocin to increase workplace trust and increase dopamine to improve well-being and job satisfaction have been shown to have positive and profitable results.
Using neuroscientific information to create models to make more effective decisions and better prioritize goals and time focus are two additional strategies that leaders can employ to improve productivity, attain organizational goals, and increase profitability.
Field Analysis of an Effective Neuroscientific Profiling Implementation Plan
Introduction and Overview
To determine the potential effectiveness of the neuroscientific profiling implementation plan and proposed elements, qualitative research was conducted on nine professional leaders using a qualitative data narrative analysis technique.
Qualitative data refers to non-numeric information, such as interview transcripts, notes, video and audio recordings, images, and text documents. Qualitative data analysis can be divided into the following five categories:
1. Content analysis. This refers to the process of categorizing verbal or behavioral data to classify, summarize and tabulate the data.
2. Narrative analysis. This method involves the reformulation of stories presented by respondents, taking into account context of each case and different experiences of each respondent. In other words, narrative analysis is the revision of primary qualitative data by the researcher.
3. Discourse analysis. A method of analyzing naturally occurring speech and all types of written text.
4. Framework analysis. This is more advanced method that consists of several stages, such as familiarization, identifying a thematic framework, coding, charting, mapping, and interpretation.
5. Grounded theory. This method of qualitative data analysis starts with an analysis of a single case to formulate a theory. Then, additional cases are examined to see if they contribute to the theory.
For the purposes of this study, narrative analysis was selected, using interview transcripts from recordings of interviews with the nine professional leaders. Leaders were selected based upon work title and current team size, with ten or more subordinates as the minimum number to qualify for the research study. Guidelines for participant selection are below.
Narrative Analysis Goals and Strategies
The purpose of the proposed study is to develop a usable and simplified framework and implementation plan to utilize recent neuroscience research related to business productivity and moral enhancement. The study will propose using a new approach to personality profiling based on modern neuroscience rather than the observation models of the past, including the OPQ-32, Myers-Briggs, the Big-5, DiSC, and the Enneagram profiling models. Ideally, the potential wide range of applications could enhance employee job satisfaction and improve productivity by adapting leadership skills to the employee’s neuroscientific profile. Furthermore, identification of a leader’s neuroscientific profile can enhance the ability to adjust the leadership style used based upon the leadership situation and the subordinate’s identified profile.
Decades ago, leadership researchers analyzed the difference between introverted and extroverted managers, which led to research on specific leadership behaviors (Hersey & Blanchard, 1969, pp. 26-34). Researchers labeled leaders as either task-oriented or relationship-oriented leaders. Task-oriented leaders were believed to be more introverted and focused on getting the job done, completing tasks, or achieving goals. These leaders exhibit modest concern for employee relationships and place more emphasis on achievements, organization, and structure. The upside noted is higher productivity, but at the cost of morale, which can eventually affect productivity.
Relationship-oriented leaders were viewed as more extroverted and focused on people, relationships, teams, motivation, and support. They encourage collaboration and frequent communication and emphasize employee well-being and happiness. They understand that reducing workplace conflicts and stress can lead to higher productivity. The upside is higher morale and job satisfaction but sometimes at the expense of productivity and profitability.
Management theorists from Ohio State University and the University of Michigan published a series of studies in the 1950s that sought to answer the question of which leadership style might be more effective (Chong, 2017). They discovered that either style can be successful depending upon the situation. This led to a new management approach called situational leadership, which forms the basis of the leadership coaching offered by The Blanchard Companies, founded by Ken Blanchard, the author of The One Minute Manager. The Blanchard Companies also prescribe to a servant leadership model, which is similar to situational leadership except that it recommends leaders serve subordinates by removing professional barriers to success and placing the needs, aspirations, and interests of others above their own (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 57).
The world’s number two ranked leadership coach, John Mattone, utilizes the Enneagram as the basis for their leadership framework (Mattone, 2013, pp. 82-100). The use of narrative analysis research allows for a qualitative study to be completed based on feedback regarding the potential effectiveness of a neuroscientific profile-based leadership style that transcends the situational-leadership model, the Enneagram-based model, and similar leadership models in use today.
The goal of the analysis is to determine, based on narrative opinion and feedback, if a neuroscientific profile-based leadership model can be implemented and if the tools proposed for such implementation will be effective and usable.
The strategy to conduct the narrative analysis research consists of a preliminary set of written survey questions, which are used to determine the neuroscience-based personality profile of the participants, to determine the qualifications and experience level of each leader, and to determine the current leadership framework, if any, in use by the participants.
Guidelines for Participation and Selection of Participants
Using advanced search parameters within LinkedIn Sales Navigator, 37 pre-qualified leaders were selected to participate in a survey. Potential participants were required to meet the following minimum criteria:
1. Current leadership role as evidenced by title of vice president or CxO.
2. Company size of more than 100 employees
3. Team size of more than 10 employees
4. Time of leadership role of more than ten years
The above criteria were used to select nine participants at random from the group of 37, wherein each participant selected a different profile type from the list of nine. Based on the research presented earlier, nine distinct personality profiles were created using the Enneagram and the profiles outlined by Dr. Tina Thomas (Thomas, 2016, pp. 173-178), and each of the nine participants represented one of the distinct nine profiles.
Again using the Enneagram’s nine personality profiles, which are typically grouped into three triads that are more emotional, instinctual, or logical (as discussed in a previous chapter), the profiles were grouped into these three categories. Three different colors (green, blue, purple) and nine profile descriptions (helpful, etc.) were used to simplify the profile selection by the participants.
Selection of Narrative Analysis Questions
To ensure satisfactory participation and adequate qualitative data, and to ensure respect for participant convenience and time constraints, the following ten questions were selected for the qualification and preparation survey:
1. When solving leadership challenges at your organization, which of these leadership frameworks do you use most often (select one of three)?
2. (Based upon the answer to Question 1): When solving leadership challenges at your organization, which (blue, green, or purple) framework do you most often employ (select one of three)?
3. Which of the following best describes your primary role with your organization?
a. I influence leadership decisions as part of a team.
b. I evaluate leadership decisions as part of a team.
c. I make final decisions as the leader of my team.
d. I am not involved with leadership decisions.
4. (If answer c is selected above) As a leader, how many people do you manage?
If the answer above is b, the following verbal interview questions were asked in a telephone interview:
5. Please describe your most prevalent leadership style (task, relationship, situational, servant, other).
6. What is your familiarity with modern neuroscientific leadership theories or practices? (this question seeks to determine whether leaders are familiar with research related to leadership neuroscience)
7. Given that you selected (profile framework selected) as your profile, what is your opinion about the accuracy of this type of profile testing? (this question seeks to determine if the participant agrees with the profile type, which validates the efficacy of using a neuroscience-based approach rather than OCEAN, OPQ32, etc.)
8. What is your opinion about the efficacy of utilizing a neuroscience-based personality profiling approach to adjust your situational-leadership style to improve productivity and morale? (this questions seeks to determine the receptiveness of the participant to using a neuroscience-based approach rather than more traditional models such as Situational Leadership II).
9. What is your view about the effectiveness of using a neuroscience-based time management tool as an improved model over Eisenhower’s time management matrix? (this questions seeks to determine the receptiveness of participants to use a neuroscience-based model to better focus the brain on priority tasks). Leaders were sent a spreadsheet example of how this model works (as outlined in Chapter 6) prior to being asked this question.
10. What is your view about the effectiveness of using a neuroscience-based decision-making model as an improved model over other leadership decision-making approaches? (this question seeks to determine the receptiveness of participants to use a decision-making model designed to empower neuroplasticity for effective decision-making). Leaders were sent an example (as outlined in Chapter 6) of how this model works prior to being asked this question.
Results of Narrative Analysis
Table 1: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant One.
Question 1: Leadership Framework Purple
Question 2: Leadership Framework Leader
Question 3: Leadership Role Male Chief Executive Officer, >50 years old, >10,000 employees, New York, Financial Services, MBA
Question 4: Team Size >10
Question 5: Current Leadership Style Task-oriented
Question 6: Neuroscientific Familiarity Limited exposure
Question 7: Neuroscientific Profiling Efficacy Viewpoint Has used Myers-Briggs and this seems similar, so could be effective if accurate
Question 8: Neuroscientific Profiling Leadership Style Adjustment Efficacy Prefers task-orientation but can see how this might work for more situational-leadership approaches
Question 9: Neuroscientific Time Management Approach Efficacy Sees the value in creating percentages for each goal
Question 10: Neuroscientific Decision-Making Approach Efficacy Prefers this to the Eisenhower model as it seems far more accurate and detailed
Table 2: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Two.
Question 1: Leadership Framework Green
Question 2: Leadership Framework Helpful
Question 3: Leadership Role Female Vice President of Human Resources, >40 years old, 5,000 to 10,000 employees, San Mateo, Technology, BSHR
Question 4: Team Size >10
Question 5: Current Leadership Style Servant
Question 6: Neuroscientific Familiarity None
Question 7: Neuroscientific Profiling Efficacy Viewpoint Can be very effective for team hiring and morale building
Question 8: Neuroscientific Profiling Leadership Style Adjustment Efficacy Could provide for a higher culture of trust within the organization
Question 9: Neuroscientific Time Management Approach Efficacy Sees how this is useful for team planning but not individual use
Question 10: Neuroscientific Decision-Making Approach Efficacy Not familiar with Eisenhower model but agrees this is useful decision-making approach
Table 3: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Three.
Question 1: Leadership Framework Green
Question 2: Leadership Framework Ambitious
Question 3: Leadership Role Male Vice President, Sales, >35 years old, 1,000 to 5,000 employees, Los Angeles, Cybersecurity, MBA
Question 4: Team Size >10
Question 5: Current Leadership Style Servant
Question 6: Neuroscientific Familiarity None
Question 7: Neuroscientific Profiling Efficacy Viewpoint Can be very effective if validity can be proven
Question 8: Neuroscientific Profiling Leadership Style Adjustment Efficacy Could allow for a more effective servant leadership approach
Question 9: Neuroscientific Time Management Approach Efficacy Very interesting, could be useful to outline team goals & purpose
Question 10: Neuroscientific Decision-Making Approach Efficacy Prefer the more simplistic Eisenhower model, but open to change where it makes sense
Table 4: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Four.
Question 1: Leadership Framework Green
Question 2: Leadership Framework Creative
Question 3: Leadership Role Female Vice President of Design, >30 years old, 500 to 1,000 employees, London, Design Agency, BS Liberal Arts
Question 4: Team Size >10
Question 5: Current Leadership Style Situational
Question 6: Neuroscientific Familiarity Heard about neuromarketing for consumer business
Question 7: Neuroscientific Profiling Efficacy Viewpoint Very creative and outside the box thinking, likes this approach
Question 8: Neuroscientific Profiling Leadership Style Adjustment Efficacy Could be interesting for team building and creating a team passion and purpose
Question 9: Neuroscientific Time Management Approach Efficacy A bit complicated but can see the use for department goal setting
Question 10: Neuroscientific Decision-Making Approach Efficacy Has used Eisenhower matrix and agrees this is an interesting new approach that could work well
Table 5: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Five.
Question 1: Leadership Framework Blue
Question 2: Leadership Framework Innovative
Question 3: Leadership Role Male Chief Information Officer, >50 years old, >10,000 employees, Boston, Technology Services, MS Engineering
Question 4: Team Size >10
Question 5: Current Leadership Style Relationship
Question 6: Neuroscientific Familiarity Has neuroscience knowledge but not for leadership
Question 7: Neuroscientific Profiling Efficacy Viewpoint Based on knowledge of neuroscience, sees how this could be quite useful
Question 8: Neuroscientific Profiling Leadership Style Adjustment Efficacy Sees how this could enhance a servant or relationship leadership approach if used correctly
Question 9: Neuroscientific Time Management Approach Efficacy Very detailed and could be useful, but not sure if leaders will be too busy to fill it out
Question 10: Neuroscientific Decision-Making Approach Efficacy Not familiar with Eisenhower matrix but agrees that this approach is more scientific than others used by leaders
Table 6: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Six.
Question 1: Leadership Framework Blue
Question 2: Leadership Framework Loyal
Question 3: Leadership Role Male Vice President of Security, >40 years old, >10,000 employees, Chicago, Insurance, MS
Question 4: Team Size >10
Question 5: Current Leadership Style Task
Question 6: Neuroscientific Familiarity Has studied neuroscience but not for leadership
Question 7: Neuroscientific Profiling Efficacy Viewpoint Allows for a safer and more secure model to ensure proper team selection and management
Question 8: Neuroscientific Profiling Leadership Style Adjustment Efficacy Could enhance a task-oriented style by more scientifically adjusting the approach
Question 9: Neuroscientific Time Management Approach Efficacy Likes the detail and cautious approach to ensure the proper time is spent on the right goals
Question 10: Neuroscientific Decision-Making Approach Efficacy Definitely an enhancement to the Eisenhower matrix
Table 7: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Seven.
Question 1: Leadership Framework Blue
Question 2: Leadership Framework Adventurous
Question 3: Leadership Role Male Vice President of Business Development, >50 years old, >10,000 employees, Orange County, Retail, MS Marketing
Question 4: Team Size >10
Question 5: Current Leadership Style Situational
Question 6: Neuroscientific Familiarity None
Question 7: Neuroscientific Profiling Efficacy Viewpoint Very exciting new approach that makes sense based on the latest research
Question 8: Neuroscientific Profiling Leadership Style Adjustment Efficacy Likes the idea of adjusting the situational model as it is now quite dated and “old school”
Question 9: Neuroscientific Time Management Approach Efficacy Not enough time to fill this out completely, but might delegate this to others on the team
Question 10: Neuroscientific Decision-Making Approach Efficacy This approach appears to be far more effective as it allows for all three brains to be employed
Table 8: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Eight.
Question 1: Leadership Framework Purple
Question 2: Leadership Framework Commanding
Question 3: Leadership Role Female Chief Marketing Officer, >40 years old, 100 to 500 employees, Dallas, Energy, MBA
Question 4: Team Size >10
Question 5: Current Leadership Style Task
Question 6: Neuroscientific Familiarity Familiar with neuromarketing but not for leadership models
Question 7: Neuroscientific Profiling Efficacy Viewpoint Could be quite useful for HR team selection and customer profile as well
Question 8: Neuroscientific Profiling Leadership Style Adjustment Efficacy Not sure how this might work for task-orientation but could allow for a softer approach for sensitive individuals
Question 9: Neuroscientific Time Management Approach Efficacy Might prefer a faster and easier model but could delegate the completion of this to others
Question 10: Neuroscientific Decision-Making Approach Efficacy Prefer this to the Eisenhower model but also suggest making it faster to complete
Table 9: Narrative Survey Questions and Interview Responses to the Qualitative Research Neuroscientific Leadership Model and Tools Proposed for Participant Nine.
Question 1: Leadership Framework Purple
Question 2: Leadership Framework Peaceful
Question 3: Leadership Role Female Chief Financial Officer, >50 years old, >10,000 employees, New York, Banking, MBA
Question 4: Team Size >10
Question 5: Current Leadership Style Servant
Question 6: Neuroscientific Familiarity None
Question 7: Neuroscientific Profiling Efficacy Viewpoint Leaders should consider the latest research and employ new models to stay relevant
Question 8: Neuroscientific Profiling Leadership Style Adjustment Efficacy Could enhance the servant style by adjusting the approach and messaging to the individual
Question 9: Neuroscientific Time Management Approach Efficacy Very powerful approach that can improve the focus on passion and purpose to quantify the goals
Question 10: Neuroscientific Decision-Making Approach Efficacy Far better than the Eisenhower model as it allows for a more accurate way to adjust the time commits to the goal importance
The research survey indicates the following conclusions:
1. Most leaders are not familiar with nor use neuroscience-based leadership models.
2. Most leaders agree that using a neuroscience-based model could improve leadership results.
3. Most leaders still use traditional task, relationship, or situational leadership styles.
4. Most leaders agree that the use of neuroscience-based leadership profiling appears to be accurate.
5. Most leaders agree that using a neuroscience-based approach to time management can be beneficial as compared to traditional methodologies.
6. Most leaders agree that using a neuroscience-based approach to leadership decision-making can be beneficial as compared to traditional methodologies.
7. More research is needed across a larger sample size with additional neuroscience-based approaches and tools to provide more conclusive accuracy.
Introduction and Overview
Decades ago, researchers started analyzing the effects of introverted and extroverted managers, which led to research on specific leadership behaviors (Hersey & Blanchard, 1969, pp. 26-34). Researchers created two categories for task-oriented or relationship-oriented leaders.
Task-oriented leaders are seen to be more introverted and focused on getting the job done, completing tasks, or achieving goals. These leaders exhibit modest concern for employee relationships and place more emphasis on achievements, organization, and structure. The upside noted is higher productivity, but this is at the cost of morale, which can eventually affect productivity.
Relationship-oriented leaders are viewed as more extroverted and focus on people, relationships, teams, motivation, and support. They encourage collaboration and frequent communication and emphasize employee well-being and happiness. They understand that reducing workplace conflicts and stress can lead to higher productivity. The upside is higher morale and job satisfaction, but sometimes at the expense of productivity and profitability.
Researchers from Ohio State University and the University of Michigan published a series of studies in the 1950s that sought to determine which leadership style is more effective (Chong, 2017). They discovered that either style can be successful depending upon the situation. This led to a management approach called situational leadership, now proffered by The Blanchard Companies. This approach recommends that leaders should use either style depending upon who they are leading and when. They suggest that some people respond better to a task-oriented rather than a relationship-oriented style, and vice versa. This can also change depending upon the circumstances or situation. For example, if the firm has a critical deadline, a task style may be better. This may be an effective method of ensuring the proper leadership style is employed in a given situation.
The Blanchard Companies also believe in a servant leadership model, wherein leaders serve subordinates by removing professional barriers to success and placing the needs, aspirations, and interests of others above their own (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002, p. 57).
Based on the latest neuroscientific research, it may be possible to enhance or extend these approaches by ensuring that a leadership or professional work style or approach also aligns with peer, subordinate, or supervisor situations based on neuroscientific personalities, demeanor, and psychological health, as well as roles and responsibilities within a team unit. Most importantly, neuroscience teaches us that subordinates will more often do what a leader does rather than what a leader says. The reason for this may be related to a neuroscientific term called mirror neurons.
Mirror neurons (Winderman, 2015, p. 48) were discovered in the 1980s by neuroscientist Dr. Giacomo Rizzolati and his team from the University of Parma in Italy. They were conducting experiments on monkeys related to motor neurons, which carry signals from the spinal cord to the muscles to allow for movement. One of Rizzolati’s lab assistants came into the lab one day while eating an ice cream cone. One of the monkeys, who was still wired up to the monitors, observed the assistant. On the monitor, the monkey’s readings lit up with electrical brain activity as if the animal were also eating the ice cream. The primate mimicked the assistant and even moved its arms and mouth as if also enjoying the cone.
Rizzolati’s team conducted further research using peanuts and found that the same motor neurons fired in the same way whether the monkeys were handling the peanuts or observing others doing so. Subsequent research on humans led to the theory that mirror neurons trigger our brain to simulate the action of those we observe. We can also mimic the emotions we witness when expressed by others. This is why people may cry during a sad scene in a movie. They may actually feel the same emotions they observe on the big screen.
Neuroscientists like Dr. Rizzolati, interviewed for this study, believe that mirror neurons play an important role in the learning process, which is why storytelling can be powerful. For leaders, an understanding of mirror neurons suggests the grave responsibility of setting the right examples. It may be easy to say, “do what I say and not what I do,” but the human brain may do just the opposite. It may therefore be important to maintain proper and good daily habits. Using Mirror Neurons, a leader’s team may observe exhibited discipline, dedication, and actions and then emulate their leader.
Implications and Future Research
McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s most respected management consulting firms, determined that around 50 percent of cultural change management efforts fail when leaders do not set good examples by adopting the recommended changes or new behaviors (Boaz & Fox, 2014). The research conducted on mirror neurons appears to support this conclusion.
Plutarch was an ancient Greek educator and historian (Gill, 1983). He stated that most people, whether introverted or extroverted, prefer not to live in a vacuum. Instead, he believed humans are naturally curious and social creatures that imitate others through close observation. Plutarch taught how to accomplish this task through his famous biographical sketches, which pictorially told positive stories about Greek and Roman heroes, including Alexander the Great, Caesar, Cicero, Pericles, and others. His goal was to offer children examples of heroism that they could emulate.
The implication of the research discussed herein is that virtually no effective talent assessment, leadership, or professional engagement enhancement models exist today, especially for remote or hybrid environments, that are based on the latest neuroscientific research, even though this research indicates that such models could improve employee selection, satisfaction, productivity, and retention. In turn, this could increase revenues while decreasing costs.
However, the research conducted on mirror neurons and by McKinsey & Company indicates that it is possible that any new assessment or leadership approach and style may be ineffective if leaders ignore talent acquisition changes, or prescribe more modern approaches to others rather than leading by example. The use of neuroscientific assessment and leadership tools may be one way to expose human resources and other leaders to a new approach based on science rather than observation or guess work.
Further research is needed in this area, which may include A/B testing to validate the ability of neuroscience-based assessment leadership models to drive additional desired results. Recruiting professionals and leadership coaches may need to consider adjusting approaches and models to empower better results, wherein the mirror neurons of colleagues and subordinates are stimulated to encourage desired behaviors and outcomes.
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Field trials and study results
Aretanium CraniumQuotient tests and subsequent MediKeeper Health Assessment portal data assessment results for 70+ individuals are available upon request. The Leadwell86 ending identifier (e.g; 1e, 1i, 2e, etc.) refers to the determined personality profile type (e.g; Type 1 Extroverted, Type 2 Introverted, etc.).
Unique ID Group Id DOB Registration Date Zip Code
MK083838 leadwell86 1/1/1970 5/9/2019 92109
MK086607 Leadwell861e 1/1/1970 6/12/2019 92026
MK100853 Leadwell861i 10/28/1947 11/14/2019 EH209ER
MK113129 Leadwell861i 8/9/1958 3/29/2020 32931
MK126641 Leadwell861i 9/12/1980 10/16/2020 91950
MK089270 Leadwell862e 6/6/1960 7/15/2019 92108
MK101844 Leadwell862e 6/25/1969 11/27/2019 GU113JZ
MK104464 Leadwell862e 1/2/1956 1/6/2020 66215
MK106012 Leadwell862e 11/14/1984 1/17/2020 92663
MK109962 Leadwell862e 6/2/1942 2/17/2020 90292
MK116853 Leadwell862e 10/24/1951 6/11/2020 7878259
MK126386 Leadwell862e 9/22/1961 10/14/2020 91910
MK115244 Leadwell862i 4/7/1973 5/6/2020 64801
MK125425 Leadwell862i 11/28/1971 10/3/2020 398157
MK086693 Leadwell863e 5/19/1951 6/14/2019 92028
MK087385 Leadwell863e 8/26/1969 6/21/2019 6082
MK090544 Leadwell863e 9/14/1952 7/31/2019 89128
MK090608 Leadwell863e 2/21/1979 8/1/2019 23836
MK097342 Leadwell863e 8/26/1948 10/10/2019 95683
MK097980 Leadwell863e 8/26/1938 10/16/2019 95683
MK098786 Leadwell863e 1/7/1954 10/23/2019 95030
MK100569 Leadwell863e 3/9/1962 11/12/2019 95020
MK100966 Leadwell863e 1/16/1986 11/16/2019 80111
MK106037 Leadwell863e 11/21/1972 1/17/2020 91214
MK107609 Leadwell863e 2/21/1979 1/28/2020 23836
MK108037 Leadwell863e 1/5/1959 1/30/2020 90292
MK112378 Leadwell863e 12/23/1978 3/13/2020 41011
MK112719 Leadwell863e 5/31/1967 3/19/2020 27613
MK113124 Leadwell863e 10/12/1979 3/29/2020 92071
MK114689 Leadwell863e 6/28/1967 4/25/2020 91910
MK117837 Leadwell863e 4/17/1977 6/25/2020 93001
MK120366 Leadwell863e 4/7/1963 8/3/2020 91105
MK120379 Leadwell863e 1/12/1977 8/3/2020 8094
MK120438 Leadwell863e 8/27/1974 8/4/2020 29229
MK123349 Leadwell863e 5/29/1960 9/12/2020 93021
MK126300 Leadwell863e 6/28/1967 10/13/2020 91910
MK152075 Leadwell863e 10/9/1954 6/21/2021 92262
MK086981 Leadwell863i 1/5/1959 6/18/2019 83864
MK095651 Leadwell863i 11/9/1962 9/18/2019 08502-_
MK103089 Leadwell863i 12/16/1989 12/16/2019 22902
MK104490 Leadwell863i 12/3/1981 1/6/2020 32505
MK113843 Leadwell863i 3/30/1960 4/10/2020 95124
MK116235 Leadwell863i 6/11/1967 5/31/2020 90278
MK120437 Leadwell863i 8/29/1967 8/4/2020 49441
MK087394 Leadwell864e 9/26/1988 6/21/2019 66046
MK106764 Leadwell864e 7/8/1994 1/22/2020 36043
MK113125 Leadwell864e 5/6/1982 3/29/2020 92126
MK108713 Leadwell864i 6/1/1964 2/5/2020 89523
MK137311 Leadwell864i 3/15/1959 2/19/2021 14216
MK094426 Leadwell865e 11/1/1957 9/7/2019 91901
MK107810 Leadwell865e 6/23/1987 1/29/2020 80234
MK109289 Leadwell865e 2/3/1988 2/11/2020 92008
MK111757 Leadwell865e 9/21/1977 3/6/2020 8056
MK117572 Leadwell865e 11/3/1957 6/22/2020 91767
MK120278 Leadwell865e 10/6/1971 7/31/2020 76092
MK122251 Leadwell865e 12/9/1974 9/1/2020 98008
MK092675 Leadwell865i 1/1/1990 8/25/2019 95218
MK106121 Leadwell865i 9/25/1987 1/19/2020 90802
MK110037 Leadwell865i 9/11/1995 2/18/2020 19446
MK110573 Leadwell865i 4/11/1988 2/23/2020 85755
MK111821 Leadwell865i 2/1/1977 3/7/2020 8053
MK115454 Leadwell865i 6/27/1957 5/11/2020 85045
MK120377 Leadwell865i 9/18/1965 8/3/2020 92131
MK123359 Leadwell865i 2/9/1982 9/12/2020 73020
MK129511 Leadwell865i 5/25/1959 11/20/2020 62684
MK087139 Leadwell866i 8/26/1948 6/20/2019 95683
MK087501 Leadwell866i 6/30/1956 6/21/2019 92081
MK090878 Leadwell866i 10/7/1989 8/5/2019 64701
MK101573 Leadwell866i 7/16/1948 11/22/2019 94022
MK105103 Leadwell866i 12/2/1977 1/11/2020 123456
MK117919 Leadwell866i 6/17/1959 6/28/2020 69404
MK090379 Leadwell867e 5/19/1976 7/29/2019 85254
MK099836 Leadwell867e 11/5/1990 11/5/2019 95113
MK113210 Leadwell867e 1/7/1953 3/31/2020 92677
MK109701 Leadwell868e 03/30/1056 2/13/2020 92109
MK103780 Leadwell869i 4/14/1978 12/29/2019 90026
Professional Survey Results across 136 individuals to determine profile type, validated by subsequent vocal calls.