"Mens sana in corpore sano 4.0"
In his inaugural address on August 28th, “Mens Sana in Corpore Sano 4.0”, Prof. Dr. Steven Poelmans presented the Melexis Endowed Chair of Neuroscience- and Technology-enabled High Performance Organizations (HPO) at Antwerp Management School in Belgium. Being named to a chair is a prestigious award and at the same time a challenge. The purpose of an endowed chair is to conduct research, develop new educational programs, influence policy-makers and create a community of professionals and academics. In the Melexis Chair the common purpose of this community is to harmonize performance and wellbeing, in order to develop high performance organizations. The new chair at Antwerp Management School, the business school of the University of Antwerp, will draw on advances in socio-cognitive neuroscience and take advantage of wearable technology for measuring biometric indicators to help professionals and managers strengthening their self-leadership, leadership, and well-being.
RESET OR RENAISSANCE
Prof. Poelmans started off his inaugural address with a daunting statement: “The human species stands at the dawn of its rebirth. The question is, whether it will be a re-set or renaissance”. The professor argued that as long as politicians, business leaders, and media continue to drive sales or collect votes by appealing to fear, taking advantage of the negativity bias of humans, citizens will respond with fear and reflexes of selfish self-preservation. They will fight for their territory, their tribe, their privileges, and this will further divide and polarize the world. This will keep us from building the international alliances needed to battle global problems, like climate change and what Poelmans referred to as “the invisible hand with Parkinson”. This will eventually lead to the destruction of the planet and our civilization. Prof. Poelmans argued that this why we need new leadership capable of rising above its predatory nature, that appeals to curiosity, desire, care, and play, also identified as basic emotions by neuroscientist Jaap Panksepp. Prof. Poelmans concluded: Corporations are now the most powerful institutions in our society, more than church, state or citizens. So solutions will have to come from leadership in corporations, in order to build high performance organizations that carry sustainability on their mind, heart, and soul. This might still turn the tide.
THE FOURTH WAVE
Throughout recent history, corporate renaissance has typically followed important advances in science. The fourth wave of socio-economic revolution comes with advances in bio-engineering, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, quantum physics and neuroscience, giving rise to new artifacts like robots, drones, androids and cyborgs.
In his address, Prof. dr. Poelmans explained how organizations can take the lead in the fourth wave scientific and technological revolution. He argues “The first companies that focus on the collection, storage, analysis and application of (biometric) data to increase performance and well-being, will be the strategic leaders of the future”. We have come to the stage where it is possible to “hack” bodies and brains, Prof. Poelmans points out. It is time to take advantage of this scientific and technological progress to combat stress, one of the main causes of absenteeism and long-term sick leave, and from a neuroscience-point of view, an important disruptor of productivity and creativity.
"MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO"
According to the professor, in that context the saying "mens sana in corpore sano" has never been more relevant: “Mental strength and health are essential to create knowledge and guarantee service quality, which are two pillars of modern economies. Training the brain to help managers to make better decisions in a social context, allows professionals and organizations to be more efficient and resilient. Companies that do not take care of health and well-being in the workplace will be surpassed in the market by companies that do, as they will be able to retain the best and the brightest.
"The aim is of is to share in a practical way how the principles of neuroscience can help in the practice of self-leadership and leadership."
As a branch of the life sciences, neuroscience deals with the anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, or molecular biology of nerves and nervous tissue and especially with their relation to behavior and learning. For organizational leaders influencing and optimizing behavior and learning is of essence. Consequently, neuroscience has joined the debate on how to best manage and lead people in organizations, with the brain in mind.
“Research based on insights generated by the neurosciences, and aided by transformative technologies, will help us to not only better understand human behavior, but also to drive behavioral change and develop leadership competencies.
Melexis, a leader in innovative semiconductor solutions, is a role model in the field of high performance organizations. CEO Françoise Chombar talks about "creating a yin yang between people and results." With the support of Melexis Prof. Poelmans will have the opportunity to conduct applied research in organizational behavior and prepare organizations for the future. Prof. Poelmans presented six lines of research, related with (1) leadership development, (2) group decision-making under stress, (3) high performance global-virtual teams, (4) leadership of digitalization, (5) technology-enabled prevention of stress, and (6) assessing multiple intelligences for detecting and orienting talent towards STEM professions.
With the Melexis Endowed Chair of High Performance Organizations Prof. Dr. Steven Poelmans takes the NeuroTrainingLab™, to its next level of development. In the lab, participants’ biometric activity is captured while interacting with others under pressure in real-life simulations. Participants’ responses are coded into competencies using the proprietary software EQqualia, which allows the observers to give immediate feedback and support participants in dealing with several leadership paradoxes. The ultimate goal of the Chair is not just to study leaders and organizations, but to translate the principles and knowledge of neuroscience into the practice of self-leadership and leadership at work.
For complete and exhaustive information about the chair click here:
Readers can watch Inaugural Address in full below:
 Some of their projects deal with sensor technology to be used in innovative cars, such as ultra-high resolution image capturing, high accuracy temperature measurements for engines, and precise magnetic field sensoring, to name a few.