In The Daily Mail this week Science Correspondent Fiona  MacRae  reports that scientists have discovered why the heart really does rule the head. According to their research, the part of the brain used for cold, hard analysis is supressed when we hear a sad story…. as long as we are able to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. The US Scientists scanned the brains of 45 young men and women as they solved problems, half of which required them to think about how others feel, whilst the other questions were based on physics. The scans revealed that while the participants were thinking about other people, the empathy network of the brain fired up, overriding the analytical part. The reverse occurred while they were thinking about physics, the journal NeuroImage reported, meaning that it is difficult to empathise and analyse at the same time. Elsewhere in the press it is reported that Barack Obama returned to the US Election campaign with ‘redoubled intensity’ as a poll in The Washington Post suggested that 8 out of 10 voters believed he had done an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ job in his handling of Superstorm Sandy, and that this may win him crucial votes. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, yesterday endorsed Mr Obama, saying the events of the past few days had made up his mind. Back in November 2004, in his blog ‘It’s Charisma, Stupid’, Paul Graham expanded upon the theory that , in US presidential elections, the more charismatic candidate wins. He goes on to say that people who write about politics, whether on the left or right, have a consistent bias: they take politics seriously. When one candidate beats another they look for political explanations, when in fact, Graham suggests, people simply vote for the candidate that seems more dynamic – the one that wants the job more. Looking back over every presidential election since TV became widespread, the apparently more charismatic candidate has won. Graham goes on to observe; Surprising, isn’t it,that voters’ opinions on the issues have lined up with charisma on 11 elections in a row? Whilst many political commentators would appear to abhor the idea that a contest as important as the US Election could be decided on something as superficial as a candidate’s charismatic presence, I for one choose to believe that factors such as trust, authenticity, and the ability to fire the imagination of a country are all perfectly valid reasons why the more charismatic candidate should prevail. And when you consider the research reported this week in the NeuroImage journal, I have a feeling that most of us would choose to follow the man that we sensed was more able to empathise with us – and think with his heart rather than his head – than we would wish to vote for the man who relied predominantly on cold, hard analysis and logic. The political arena can teach business leaders a thing or two about the importance of winning the hearts of employees, particularly during difficult economic trading times . Recent research by The University of Lausanne supported further evidence published in Harvard Business Review in June 2012, concluded: “the most effective leaders layer charismatic leadership on top of transactional and instrumental leadership to achieve their goals.”

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.