The chemistry of leadership

Every organisation has leaders. Truly effective leaders are less common. What makes leaders, and their organisations, exemplary? Our natural desire to be inspired by our leaders and to work cooperatively is not often met in modern companies.

There are four chemicals that rule our behaviour:

  • Endorphins – the shot of energy we receive to complete physical tasks. The feeling during exercise is the closest comparison in the modern world. Endurance can be a valuable skill in the business world.
  • Dopamine – the pleasurable feeling when seeking and receiving rewards. Dopamine is released when we check our mobile phone or email, make a sale, meet a goal, or even eat and drink. Although dopamine can lead to risky behaviour, it is present any time you receive an anticipated reward. Leaders need to be careful about which behaviours are rewarded, because they will end up with a significant amount of that behaviour.

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