Cognitive Processing

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 171–181 | Cite as

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

  • Harald S. HarungEmail author
  • Frederick Travis
Research Report


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 



We thank G. C. Rieber AS, Bergen, Norway and Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway for financial support, and Tor Dahl and Magne Lerø for their help with identifying the top-level managers.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Technology, Art, and Design, Division of ManagementOslo and Akershus University CollegeOsloNorway
  2. 2.Center for Brain, Consciousness and CognitionMaharishi University of ManagementFairfieldUSA

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