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How to be a magnetic leader, according to a neuropsychologist

A Harvard-trained neuropsychologist breaks down how to be an effective—and effortless—leader.

Magnetic leadership is when others follow you because they are attracted to the power of your example. This is the most powerful way to lead because it’s the most aligned with how your brain operates. People are connected to you not because you insist, but because they choose—it’s a neurological win-win.

Magnetic energy is powerful because it strikes the optimal balance between the brain’s drive for both dependence and independence. We all know of leaders who magnetize others with their genuine energy for the mission they serve. They’re not thinking about controlling us—obsessed with our work, what we’re doing, and what we’re not. Instead, they’re focused on the larger mission and, as an effect, we can’t help but be turned on by their energy.

When your actions arise from the right energy—when you act inspired because you feel inspired or when you act generously because you feel generous—relationships are strengthened. Kids listen, employees believe, customers engage, and partners trust. Whether you steward people at work, online, or at home, it’s when people choose to follow your lead because they want to that you’ll know you’ve built the most powerful relationships of all.

Here’s an example from Miles, a partner in a consulting firm who had success as a leader, building a team with strong morale while increasing revenue by approximately 1,000 percent in less than two years. Miles says the main reason he’s had so much success is because he’s energized by a collective mission—by binding his team under a bigger vision that belongs to them all. Miles explains that deep success came when “we removed this concept of there being a task that had to be done and started focusing on a mission we desired to achieve together. It turns out the more I genuinely believe in that common mission, the more I become the leader people want to follow.”


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