THE ROLE OF WORKING MEMORY IN LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT
We’ve taken out an extract from Keiron Sparrowhawk‘s book, ‘Executive Function: Cognitive Fitness For Business‘ which explains the role of Â the working memory in leadership and management.
What is working memory?
Working memory is the ‘workspace’ in your mind. This is where you store relevant information that you can return to during the course of a mental comprehension or arithmetic activity. It is your ability to make decisions and solve problems.
Working memory allows you to comprehend complex reports, presentations, and financial accounts. A strong working memory is able to hold information, mentally manipulate it over a short time period, and to undertake continuous iterations of that process until you come to a conclusion or a decision with which you are comfortable.
The role of working memory in leadership and management
Your ability to manipulate working memory involves the short term storage of information. It is critical for your reasoning and comprehension and allows you to make the right decisions and solve problems. You do this by holding vital pieces of information in your short-term memory and manipulating them with additional information and data held in your cortex. You bring the parts together to come to a conclusion or decision. Once the initial round is completed, your mind may go through several iterations of the same problem, with slight changes in direction, perspective, or weighting until you are fully satisfied with the solution. Each turn of the brain takes seconds, but depending on the complexity and amount of data, the entire process could go on for some time.
Those of you who have great working memory use it when attending meetings where an action is required. In the meeting you take in the data presented and manipulate it by comparing and contrasting it with other facts and information in real time, incorporating knowledge and data from others in the meeting as required. This enables you to make good decisions by triangulating all the possibilities, computing all the opportunities across all paradigms, rather than relying on a single or few sources.
Equally in meetings, it enables you to formulate questions, to clarify points made, to push the agenda along, and to create actions for others. Left to your devices, you manage meetings successfully and resourcefully.
Analysing and calculating data
Working memory is used when analysing and calculating financial data, such as share prices, exchange rate movements, profit margins, and cash flow. It enables you to see beyond the numbers and understand what they mean in broader sense. Whether you work in finance or not, you are able to interpret financial and other data and see the trends, the covariates, and causations, the immediate and longterm consequences for your company.
You also using your working memory when negotiating the sale or purchase of a product or service, the sale of a company, or when negotiating staff salaries. It is also used attempting to solve an intractable problem in a process. You still utilise it for the deep, obstinate problems that others recoil from.
Working memory allows you to write and understand complex and intricate reports, to interpret these reports so that others understand them. When writing, you ensure that you break down the parts of a recommendation or action so that you don’t lose people in the process. You may be able to quickly go from “A to Z”, but you are cognisant that others require that you show them all the working through “B, C D,” etc.
Comments are closed