Become A Brain-Savvy Leader: An Interview With Charles Stone

Leadership requires more from us than just showing up. We’re required to use our bodies and, more importantly, our minds to lead well.

That’s why I’m excited about today’s post.

Become a brain-savvy leader

I was recently able to interview Dr. Charles Stone. Dr. Stone is the lead pastor at West Park Church in London, Ontario. He’s been in church ministry for over 34 years. Along with his experience leading churches, Dr. Stone has an advanced degree in the neuroscience of leadership. And, recently, he released his new book Brain-Savvy Leaders: The Science Of Significant Ministry (Read on to learn how you can win 1 of 2 copies that I have to give away).

This man knows his stuff. And he’s ready to share with you.

Dr. Charles Stone on Brain-Savvy Leadership

1. What was your inspiration for writing Brain-Savvy Leaders?

My 28-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age one. After a dozen brain surgeries, she is doing well. Having lived in this neuro-world for decades gave me a great interest in learning about the brain. That led me to earning an executive masters in the neuroscience of leadership and in turn, writing the Brain-Savvy book.

2. How has your study of the brain intersected with your faith? Do you see science and the Word of God aligning?

An old preacher once said that “All truth is God’s truth.” I believe what he said. God gave us his incredible world to investigate its beauty and intricacies. I believe that God enjoys our enjoyment when we examine and study his creation. And since the brain is a part of our body and literally the command and control center of our body, learning about it can help us live out our faith better.

3. In chapter 10 of Brain-Savvy Leaders, you share 3 brain-friendly skills that are overlooked. The first brain-friendly skill you mention is brainstorming and creativity. Why do you think leaders overlook these brain-friendly skills?

With the advent of the functional MRI 20 years ago (an MRI technique that can see what part of the brain that ‘ lights up’), brand new vistas of understanding about brain function have opened up. A new branch of neuroscience called social cognitive neuroscience seeks to correlate what the brain does to real life scenarios. Brainstorming has been around a while and those who use it advocate some commonly used techniques based on dated research. However, with new tools to help us understand what goes inside the brain, we’re learning better techniques to improve leadership, such as brainstorming. Unfortunately, brainstorming can seem to be a ‘soft’ leadership skill. Thus, it’s often overlooked. However, those ‘soft’ skills are often some of the most important leadership skills, though sometimes they fly under the radar.

4. What is one way a church leader can use brain science to lead the church more effectively?

One simple insight is something called ‘emotional contagion.’ In the 1960’s some scientists at the University of Parma, Italy discovered something called mirror neurons. Mirror neurons enable us to mirror goal-directed action we see in others. Emotional contagion is the concept that we mirror the emotions we sense and see in others. If a church leader has a rotten attitude around this team, they tend to mirror that rotten attitude. Yet, when a leader conveys hopeful and positive attitudes, his or her team will mirror those as well. So, I encourage leaders to be self-aware of their emotions because those around him will mirror them.

5. In your opinion, what is the most fascinating thing about the human brain?

Wow, that’s a tough one because there are so many. Perhaps one of the most fascinating ones is that the brain is malleable, it’s more like putty than porcelain. It’s called neuroplasticity. The brain actually physically reorganizes itself based on experiences and what we put into our minds.

6. If you had to leave a leader with one piece of advice, what would you tell them?

Be aware of your thinking patterns. The term is called, ‘metacognition,’ thinking about what you are thinking about. In Romans 12.2, the Apostle Paul talks about transforming our minds. Our thoughts literally can change our brain circuitry.  Unfortunately, we are often unaware of our thoughts and often those thoughts lead to negative and unprofitable thinking. Yet, when we practice thinking about our thinking, we can often stop those unhealthy mental rabbit trails. So, I encourage leaders to, ‘think about what you are thinking about.’

How To Win A Free Copy Of Brain-Savvy Leaders

Now that Dr. Charles Stone has dropped his leadership wisdom on you, it’s time to try to win a copy of his new book. To enter, fill out the contest entry form.

Question: How would becoming a brain-savvy leader help you lead better? Let’s talk about this in the comment section below.

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