158- How to use neuroscience to build a thriving team | Ft. Michelle Bihary

People are every organisation’s greatest asset.  But many organisations fail to recognise that basic fact.  My guest this week, Michelle Bihary, is here to change that.

‘Michelle is a workplace reliance expert.  And the author of the book Leading Above the Line: Applying neuroscience to build psychologically safe and thriving teams. As she writes:

“Savvy organisations recognise they have a vital role in maintaining a thriving workforce and workplace (whether in person or virtually) creating a culture that supports resilience, mental wellbeing and self-management skills as well as leader wellbeing. These are all vital to embrace over the months ahead and build a productive and mindful post-pandemic world.”

So what does it mean to lead above the line? Where, exactly, is the line?


Lessons Learned

Above the line leadership

Above the line behavior is behavior that brings out the best in us. So, if we’re on the receiving end of behavior, we want it to be at minimum neutral. “Above the line” is behavior that’s going to have a positive impact.  So, it’s good for us. It’s healthy. Below the line is the opposite of that. It’s everything that’s not good for us.

Neuroscience in the workplace

Michelle’s background in neuroscience has focused on interpersonal neurobiology. That sounds like a really fancy term. But what it really means is the impact of interpersonal relationships on our brain functioning. So above the line behavior simply means behavior that’s really good for us and for our functioning. So it has a direct positive impact on our brain functioning. In fact, positive behavior helps us stay in our executive brain, which is where we think our best thoughts. Where we’re strategic, lateral and creative. But also where we can see things from different people’s perspectives. So it’s really good for relationships.

Most of us operate below the line

Almost all of us end up functioning below the line. We’re functioning from the amygdala or brainstem. We have a an antivirus software in our head that’s constantly scanning our environment for negativity and danger. Things that make us feel unsafe When we feel fearful, it’s like the antivirus senses that risk or threat, and it takes over. So, when one person behaves negatively or sharply,it affects everyone around them. There’s a cumulative effect that occurs. When too much builds up that’s how you end up with a toxic workplace.

Emotional intelligence is the key

We really didn’t have the language of emotional intelligence before the 1990’s. Our understanding of that concept has been slow building  over the last three decades.  Once you understand the language of emotional intelligence the possibility of self-leadership emerges.  The idea that when you can control your internal dialogue you will be able to better implement your hopes and desires.




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