mind tools personal development neuro linguistic programming nlp leadership mirror neurons and behaviour
This article is about Leadership Mirror Neurons and Behaviour. A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. The neuron “mirrors” the behaviour of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in various species. In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex. Many scientists believe they are important in imitation and language acquisition.

Many strategies for accelerate learning and modeling excellence (e.g. in NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming) are built upon the functionality of the mirror neurons. Leadership Mirror Neurons and Behaviour.


As a leader, your ultimate weapon in influencing your people might be your own on-the-job behavior. Your subordinates are watching you and register unconsciously elements of behavioral patterns you display. They observe how you interact with your own boss, your peers, your subordinates, with externals. They observe how you manage your time, how you act under pressure, how you delegate, how flexible or not you are, how you interact with groups, how you approach change, personal development, etc. And, at least some of them, (who knows exactly how many?) will model their behavior on yours. Leadership Mirror Neurons and Behaviour.

What happens with your behaviour?

You did it with your parents. Some of you might remember the line: “I will never do what my parents did in this area”.

Your children model you; your employees model you. So, if you want to assess how you stand on some of your leadership aspects look around: at your subordinates, at your children and significant other(s) and you will get lots of valuable feedback to use in your progress quest. Some of your subordinates who are consciously aware and reject some behavioural aspects of yours might do the opposite you do.

Challenging Exercises

So, I am wondering how easy it would be for you to focus your attention in the next few days on observing and describing internally recurring patterns of behaviours that you consider inefficient, incongruent and ineffective in your subordinates (and in your children for that matter). Do the same exercise on the efficient, congruent and effective ones the week thereafter. Leadership Mirror Neurons and Behaviour.

Be then your own observer/consultant and check your behaviors in those contexts. Stay away from observing, evaluating and (re)acting on them. Just observe, reflect(you can even write it down if you need to see the information in order to better analyze it) and integrate whatever useful information you detect based on your intention. This experience is about you and what can you use from your reflection to the outside world; it’s about having a new tool to be a better leader in many areas of your life. Leadership Mirror Neurons and Behaviour.

If you want to be a great leader, coach, set standards you want your subordinates to adopt. Strategies come afterwards … People do what you do and not what you say or write. And, imagine and live up to your standards. Leadership Mirror Neurons and Behaviour.

To your success and remember to leave people and your business(es) in a better place that “how and where” you found them, every day! 

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Mind Tools provides NLP Practitioner and NLP Master Practitioner Trainings and Certifications. We educate you according to the renowned, latest and highest standards set by the Society of NLP. We will train you thoroughly in all the corners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and some extras we learned from Richard Bandler directly.

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