Being in a good mood, research finds, helps people take in information effectively and respond nimbly and creatively. In other words, laughter is serious business.

Excerpts from Social intelligence and the biology of leadership, by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatsis:

“In the past five years, research in the emerging field of social neuroscience – the study of what happens in the brain while people interact – is beginning to reveal subtle new truths about what makes a good leader. [click here for video:]

“The salient discovery is that certain things leaders do – specifically, exhibit empathy and become attuned to others’ moods – literally affects both their own brain chemistry and that of their followers. Indeed, researchers have found that the leader-follower dynamic is not a case of two (or more) independent brains reacting consciously or unconsciously to each other. Rather, the individual minds become, in a sense, fused into a single system.

Followers mirror their leaders – literally

“Perhaps the most stunning recent discovery in behavioral neuroscience is the identification of “mirror neurons” in widely dispersed areas of the brain. It turns out that there’s a subset of mirror neurons whose only job is to detect other people’s smiles and laughter, prompting smiles and laughter in return. A boss who is self-controlled and humorless will rarely engage those neurons in his team members, but a boss who laughs and sets an easygoing tone puts those neurons to work, triggering spontaneous laughter and knitting his team together in the process. A bonded group is one that performs well, as our colleague Fabio Sala has shown in his research. He found that top-performing leaders elicited laughter from their subordinates three times as often, on average, as did midperforming leaders. Being in a good mood, other research finds, helps people take in information effectively and respond nimbly and creatively. In other words, laughter is serious business.” The article continues here.

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