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How neuroplasticity can help business leaders change their behaviour

Lara O'Reilly
Executive Producer

Dr Tara Swart, a neuroscientist and former psychiatric doctor, works with business leaders across the world to improve the physical condition of their brains in order to prime them for success.

One of the key concepts she teaches in her leadership coaching is “neuroplasticity”: the brain’s ability to flex and change.

Speaking on Yahoo Finance UK’s Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded show, Swart called the concept “very, very exciting” for behaviour change in the world of financial services. (You can watch the full interview with Dr Tara Swart here.)

Neuroscientist and leadership coach Dr Tara Swart on Yahoo Finance UK’s Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded series. Photo: Yahoo Finance UK

She described how she helps clients build new neural pathways through practice and repetition — allowing them to improve their emotional intelligence, or become a better listener, for example — much like people would learn a new language.

In her recently published book, The Source, Swart writes that brain scans show many different activities can encourage change in the brain, but three factors tend to have the most impact: novel experiences, aerobic exercise, and strong emotional stimulation.

“I’m sure you know as many people as I do that say, ‘well I’m too old for that [behaviour] to change now,'” Swart said on Global Change Agents.

“The research around neuroplasticity is so compelling about how much we can change throughout our working life that it really gives people a massive amount of potential that they didn’t know they had, and that’s really positive.”

Swart’s clients have included Facebook, Schroders, Standard Chartered, and the BBC.

Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded explores the stories of some of the most inspirational women across business, tech, and academia. Catch up on all the latest episodes here.