“About 20 years ago, it was seen as really important to be strategic rather than tactical,” says neuroscientist Tara Swart. But advances in her field, combined with the shifting demands of modern employers, have begun to change that. “Now, I think an understanding of the cognitive sciences is going to be the thing that makes people thrive.”
Indeed, as Swart points out, there’s a growing understanding that deeply human capabilities–the skills, including those rooted in emotional intelligence, that aren’t so easily automated–may be rising in value in the future job market. But from a brain-science perspective, she explains, many of those core skills have always been among humans’ most valuable evolutionary assets. “The ‘executive functions’ of the brain are the highest functions of the brain,” Swart says, and those include the ability to:
- regulate our emotions
- suppress our biases
- switch between tasks
- solve complex problems
- think creatively and flexibly
Here’s Swart’s take on why those brain skills are so crucial as the workplace evolves, and what it takes to optimize them.