The Science of Managing Up

Three of the things I love talking about most are neuroscience, workplace culture, and collaboration. More than once I’ve gone down an research rabbit hole and ended up reading summaries of books with titles like How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.

I summarized several days of research into this piece for the Slack blog:

There are things a manager can do to create a culture that encourages managing up. In her recent TedX talk “Neuroscience of Empowering Leadership,” Gabija Toleikyte talks about the qualities and impact of resonant leadership. To summarize, resonant leaders are self-aware, and know both their talents and their shortcomings. They don’t see themselves as better than the people who report to them.

From a neurological perspective, the brain’s resonant network is what allows us to imagine future events, understand our own emotions and understand the cognitive space of others. “When we try to understand another person truly and deeply, we activate this network,” Toleikyte says.

A look at the brain scans of people who are thinking about being managed in this way shows it sets off a release of the brain chemicals dopamine and oxytocin. The former is responsible for motivation, and the latter is linked to empathy, creativity and resilience. These are all key elements of managing up.

The Science of Managing Up