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The Leading Brain

Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance

By Friederike Fabritius & Hans W. Hagemann
12-minute read
Audio available
The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance by Friederike Fabritius & Hans W. Hagemann

The Leading Brain (2017) dismisses the trends and gimmicks surrounding productivity in favor of hard science about how the brain really works in the everyday stress of a nine-to-five job. There is plenty of research and scientific data on how to create productive habits, build the perfect team and keep staff working at their best.

  • Psychology students
  • Managers and supervisors looking to improve their leadership skills
  • Readers interested in self-improvement

Friederike Fabritius is a leading neuropsychologist with years of experience helping some of the world’s top business leaders. She’s also the head of the Neuroleadership Practice Group and a popular keynote speaker at conferences around the world.

Hans W. Hagemann is an expert on innovation and leadership who specializes in conducting transformative workshops. He is also the cofounder and managing partner of the Munich Leadership Group.

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The Leading Brain

Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance

By Friederike Fabritius & Hans W. Hagemann
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance by Friederike Fabritius & Hans W. Hagemann
Synopsis

The Leading Brain (2017) dismisses the trends and gimmicks surrounding productivity in favor of hard science about how the brain really works in the everyday stress of a nine-to-five job. There is plenty of research and scientific data on how to create productive habits, build the perfect team and keep staff working at their best.

Key idea 1 of 7

Peak performance requires a certain amount of stress, and the optimal level depends on your testosterone levels.

If you’ve ever played tennis or baseball, you’re probably familiar with the sweet spot. This is an area on a bat or tennis racquet that will give you the best control or most power when hitting the ball. But what you may not know is that there’s also a sweet spot for getting the most out of your job performance.

We all have a mental zone that allows us to do our best and most productive work, and research shows that it takes just the right amount of applied stress to get us there.

The link between stress and performance was discovered in 1908 by psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson, who found that rats were better at navigating mazes when given mild electric shocks. However, they found that when the shocks were too intense, the rats would panic and try to escape. So there was a sweet spot, where just the right amount of added stress would help produce peak performance.

The same holds true for humans as well: when the stress levels are at just the right intensity, we’ll reach our optimal levels of attention and focus. Too low, and we’re likely to be unfocused and bored; too high, and we’ll be so panicked that we won’t be able to focus on the task at hand.

So what is the perfect amount of stress?

Results show that men, on average, require more applied stress than women to reach that sweet spot of peak performance. Researchers believe this is due to their higher levels of testosterone, which is associated with risk-taking and thrill-seeking behavior. So, to perform at their best, those with high testosterone levels will require a more thrilling, or stressful, scenario.

Since our testosterone levels decrease with age, research shows that the level of stress required for the best work results also decreases over time.

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