Sign up for the CO2 Partners Newsletter
Executive Coaching and Business Coaching Image

Big Change in Brain Dominance Theory

Brain Dominance

Become a Committee of Two in Your Mind

The split-brain research done by Roger Sperry in the early 1960′s led many pop psychologists to conclude (incorrectly) that the left and right halves or our brains had largely separate functions. Logical and mathematical people were said to be left-brained, and creative people were said to be right-brained. That theory of brain dominance has been debunked. The truth is that both halves of the brain work together, bilaterally, to accomplish most functions.

People aren’t either left-brained or right-brained (the way they might be left- or right-handed). We are, all of us, governed primarily by intuition and logic–what Daniel Kahnaman calls Thinking Fast and Slow. Our first order of thinking (intuition) is fast and driven by safety. We don’t want to endanger ourselves, so our intuition leads us toward safe and familiar decisions–based upon what we’ve done in the past or by emotional imprints created by what others have done to us.

Our second order of thinking is driven by logic and convenience. Our bodies don’t want to expend more energy than they have to when performing a physical task, and our brains don’t want to expend more energy than they have to when performing a mental one. Our second order of thinking will, therefore, favor proving what our intuition believes is right.

Whether we think fast or slow, we don’t always make the best decisions. Instead, we tend to make many of the same decisions again and again–unless the risk is miniscule, we are faced with compelling logic, or we have a new and strong emotional imprint. If we’re left to our own devices, in other words, we’ll likely order the ham and Swiss, park closest to the exit, choose providers based upon reputation over price, and prefer new ideas to old ones. And we may not hire the job candidate whose smile reminds us of someone who betrayed us deeply.

We do what we do, and we ask what we ask

People usually act predictably, since it affirms their own identity and helps communicate it to others. With the Just Ask Leadership Assessment, we learned that leaders are not only predictable in terms of what they do, but also what they ask.

In Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, Marilee Adams says that every time we ask a question, we try to answer it (either consciously or subconsciously). She believes that if you find you’re repeatedly unhappy with a particular outcome, you need to stop working on the answer, and start working on the question. Rather than ask, “Why do I continue to stay in my company?” for instance, you might ask, “How can I leave this company?” Shifting the question can lead to a different and better outcome, and it will change your daily self-talk, too.

Just Ask a New Question

Using the Just Ask Leadership Assessment, you will learn your leadership style and recognize the types of questions you typically ask others and yourself. At CO2 Partners, we encourage leaders to know and hone their particular leadership style, but also to step outside of their comfort zones in order to truly test their assumptions and beliefs. We encourage leaders to ask new questions–especially questions used by those with the polar opposite leadership style.

If you start asking counter-intuitive questions, you will become a committee of two, rather than a committee of one. You will:

1) Increase cross-traffic communication between your brain’s left and right hemisphere;
2) Test and potentially revise subconscious beliefs that guide your fast thinking (intuition);
3) Increase and improve your slow thinking (logic).

Be a committee of two (or more). Diversify your thinking and your questions.



About the Author

Gary Cohen is a highly-skilled Executive Coach, Leadership Author, Trainer, and International Keynote Speaker. His clients range from entrepreneurial CEOs of the nation’s fastest-growing companies to executives of global 100 companies. He differentiates himself from traditional (psycho/therapeutic) executive coaches by bringing a vast amount of business experience as a former Founder / President of one the Nation’s Fastest growing companies. He is the author of Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Always Ask the Right Questions (McGraw Hill). Gary B. Cohen Full Bio

Executive Coaching and Business Coaching Image