Research Report

Cognitive Processing

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 171-181

First online:

Higher mind-brain development in successful leaders: testing a unified theory of performance

  • Harald S. HarungAffiliated withFaculty of Technology, Art, and Design, Division of Management, Oslo and Akershus University College Email author 
  • , Frederick TravisAffiliated withCenter for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition, Maharishi University of Management

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This study explored mind-brain characteristics of successful leaders as reflected in scores on the Brain Integration Scale, Gibbs’s Socio-moral Reasoning questionnaire, and an inventory of peak experiences. These variables, which in previous studies distinguished world-class athletes and professional classical musicians from average-performing controls, were recorded in 20 Norwegian top-level managers and in 20 low-level managers—matched for age, gender, education, and type of organization (private or public). Top-level managers were characterized by higher Brain Integration Scale scores, higher levels of moral reasoning, and more frequent peak experiences. These multilevel measures could be useful tools in selection and recruiting of potential managers and in assessing leadership education and development programs. Future longitudinal research could further investigate the relationship between leadership success and these and other multilevel variables.


Top-level managers Leadership Brain integration Moral reasoning Peak experiences Mind-brain development