Training that involves emotional changes requires a long-term commitment, both from the organization and the trainee.

Here’s why: Knowledge-based and algorithmic knowledge involves the neocortex, which readily rewires itself to accept new information. But higher-level learning involves emotion, which requires other areas of the brain also to rewire themselves – areas that aren’t as “plastic” as the neocortex.

Example: A talented young manager had developed the habit of redoing his charges’ work because, well, he thought he could do it better. (He was often right, but it still demoralized his staff.) He could also be short and impatient with people, with occasional outbursts.
His company offered leadership training. Teaching the mechanics of delegation was straightforward. What took time and effort was realigning the manager’s emotional responses.

It required six months of coaching for him to learn to take pride in developing people and to set aside his impatient feelings. Even then, his emotional brain wasn’t completely rewired. But he was making progress.

Source: Goleman, D. Leadership that Gets Results. Harvard Business Review. (March-April 2000).

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