Three Things Leaders Can Do to Become More Successful

Topic(s): leadership
Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: 3 Ways Our Brains Undermine Our Ability to Be a Good Leader
Authors: C. McEnroe, D. Rock
Reviewed by: Daisy Rowser-Grier

Researchers from the Neuroleadership Institute (McEnroe & Rock, 2023) say that the majority of new managers fail within the first year and a half on the job. Why is the success rate so low? The authors suggest that common leadership training programs are leaving leaders underprepared in three core areas. To be successful, leaders may have to change how they think and where they focus their attention.    


Look to the future

As leaders grow and become more involved with higher-up duties, it is essential for them to be visionaries who focus on future possibilities – they should think about where the team is going and how to get them there. With the need to balance numerous responsibilities, it may be tough to find time to think about the future. Still, leaders may aim to set aside time for this at least once per month.

Focus on people

Strong leaders need to balance the business-oriented side of the job with the people-oriented side of the job. Excelling at both aspects can be a challenge, as the authors point out that people are often promoted to leadership positions because of technical proficiency, not necessarily their people skills. In fact, the authors say that less than 1% of leaders receive high ratings on both goal focus and people focus. Still, employees need a leader who understands that they are human beings and not game pieces; it is vital to make interpersonal connections.

Maintain realistic expectations

It is easy to get caught up in positive thinking and believing that the future vision will magically materialize. However, team members need a clear and detailed roadmap to complete work in a timely manner. Asking your team members for their perspectives during the planning stage and allowing them to help set goals could lead to more realistic expectations of what is possible.


The authors of this article identified three core areas that leaders should pay attention to in order to be successful. While leadership training programs offer promise, the work a leader does after the program matters even more. Overall, the authors argue that it is possible to become a better leader – with time, effort, commitment, and increased focus on the three core areas.


McEnroe, C., & Rock, D. (2023). 3 ways our brains undermine our ability to be a good leader. Harvard Business Review.

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