The Human Brain  – An Owners Manual For Conscious Leaders


Our brains influence our behavior, which impacts our ability to work together. As a leader, the ability to understand ourselves and others is essential for building relationships and working together to accomplish our goals. This resource explores how the human brain influences behavior, emotions, decision-making, and interpersonal dynamics in the workplace. It examines brain chemicals, inherent selfishness vs selflessness, emotional constructs, perception of reality, cognitive biases, and dealing with challenging personalities. 


This paper offers insights on how to use brain science as a starting point for learning to be a better human and a better leader. The brain plays a pivotal role in decision-making processes. Leaders who understand how the brain evaluates rational data and emotional cues can make more informed and balanced decisions by harmonizing logical analysis with emotional intelligence. Understanding brain science can build awareness of self and others to mitigate the influence of cognitive biases and emotional triggers that can cloud judgment. 


Each of the seven sections in this paper looks at a different aspect of how the human brain operates. The sections point out how we can better understand ourselves and others through learning more about how our brains work and impact our behavior and interactions. Gaining an understanding of these brain constructs helps us to be better people and better leaders.
  1. There is No New Human Model
  2. How the Brain Impacts Work Behavior
  3. Selfish or Selfless?
  4. Brain Behavior and Emotional Constructs
  5. Reality Perception & Decision Making
  6. Our Deceptive Brains
  7. Personalities Outside the Norm
Key ideas Brain Chemicals and Motivation
  • Endorphins and dopamine drive self-preservation behaviors like overcoming challenges to achieve goals.
  • Serotonin and oxytocin promote collaboration, trust, and social bonding.
  • Leaders should foster environments that release serotonin and oxytocin to build cohesive teams.
Inherent Selfishness vs Selflessness
  • Humans are innately selfish, driven by survival instincts and self-interest.
  • But we also have biological drivers for selfless acts to protect family/tribe.
  • Leaders must understand these conflicting motivations in themselves and others.
Emotions and Behavior
  • Emotions are constructed based on predicted outcomes from past experiences.
  • Different people react differently to the same situation based on their context.
  • Being aware of the emotional drivers behind behavior is key for leaders.
Reality Perception and Decision-Making
  • Our brains construct our perceived reality by filling in gaps with assumptions.
  • Fast brain thinking relies on biases and patterns for efficiency.
  • Slow, analytical thinking is needed for good decisions but requires conscious effort.
Overcoming Biases
  • Unconscious biases lead to flawed judgments about expertise, trust, potential.
  • Including all voices and perspectives counteracts groupthink.
  • Slowing down processes gives analytical thinking a chance to override biases.
Dealing with Challenging Personalities
  • Some personalities like bullies, narcissists, and sociopaths require special handling.
  • Understanding their motivations is crucial for managing difficult behaviors.
Leaders must develop self-awareness about how their own brain drives their thoughts and actions. Understanding the biological roots of human behavior and perception enables more effective relationship development and leading of diverse teams.

Sample Activity

This understanding can be applied in everyday life. It can be read by a group with a follow-up group discussion on key points and personal experiences and takeaways.
  • What are 3 insights you gained?
  • How does the learning apply to your experience?
  • How might you apply the learning to your future actions?


This asset is derived from the work of Anne Hunnex.

Target Audience:

  • Leaders
  • Educators
  • Facilitators

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