May 16, 2012 - FILED UNDER Collaboration

Between Minds: Left Brain vs. Right Brain Thinkers

I’ve always considered myself to be more of a right brain thinker. Math was never my strong suit. I’m writing a novel — that’s creative, right? I have multiple cats. And I dance around (and trip) at odd moments…a lot.

To put this hypothesis to the test, I conducted a very unscientific Internet meme experiment.

I see this cat dancing clockwise. Result = right brain.

I scored a 71% “Right” in The Brain Test. Result = right brain.

I scored 25/75 on the Creativity Test. Result = right brain

Right Brain vs Left Brain: Creativity Test

Although my “methods” may be a bit unorthodox, I was still excited to find that I was right (pun definitely intended — sorry).

To expand even more on this subject, Mindjet created a new infographic for its “Between Minds: An Ongoing Taxonomy of Team Dynamics” series that explores how Left Brain vs. Right Brain thinkers process information, engage in projects, perceive the world, and problem solve.

Click here to see if you use more of your left brain or right brain

Between Minds: Right Brains vs. Left Brains
You’re welcome to embed this image on your blog, the code is here:

[sourcecode language="html"]
<a title="Team Dynamics Infographic: Left Brain vs Right Brain" href="http://bit.ly/KVuWXe"><img src="http://images.learn.mindjet.com/EloquaImages/clients/MindjetLLC/%7B6aadcb11-4b9e-4dc8-bc24-eba583d31f54%7D_JESS3_Mindjet_BetweenMinds_RBvLB-final.jpg" alt="Team Dynamics Infographic: Left Brain vs Right Brain" width="690" height="476" /></a> Infographic from <a title="Collaboration Tools from Mindjet" href="http://www.mindjet.com">Mindjet</a>
[/sourcecode]

Daniel H. Pink, author of several bestselling books about the changing work world, drew on international research regarding left brainers vs. right brainers and compiled it in his book A Whole New Mind.

“The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body, is sequential, specializes in text, and analyzes the details,” writes Pink. “The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body, is simultaneous, specializes in context, and synthesizes the big picture.”

Lead Life Institute’s founder and author of Right Brain/Left Brain Leadership and Right Brain/Left Brain President Dr. Mary Lou Décosterd further describes the differences between right and left brainers: “You could say that left brainers are more focused on the here and now.They are more verbal, tangible (need to see it to believe it), and pragmatic. Right brainers are visionaries and innovators, interested in what might or could be. They are more intuitive and emotional — they trust their gut.”

She further explains how this relates to leadership. “Left brain leaders excel in and target the sheer volume of a leader’s day-to-day tactical demands. Left brain leadership is about in-the-moment planning, communicating, stabilizing and driving,” she told us. “Right brain leaders excel in and target the development of a desired state. Right brain leaders look out at possibilities and from those possibilities identify opportunities for change.”

Andrea Learned, a sustainable business leadership and marketing to women expert, told us that gender has had a traditional role in what people perceive left and right brain thinking to be. “Women are thought to ‘tend’ to be guided by those right hemisphere characteristics. Meanwhile, men are thought to ‘tend’ to be guided by the more left hemisphere characteristics, because that is what they’ve traditionally been most rewarded for (making money, winning, thinking linearly…),” Learned said. “If you look at social media and social business today, it is pretty clear that the right hemisphere characteristics will find more of the reward in the 21st century.”

Is it possible to use your whole brain? Would doing so create some sort of superhuman? Dr. Décosterd says President Obama is a good example of someone who uses both. “His is a fully integrated right and left brain approach. While high level leaders can be adept at certain right  and left brain abilities, most leaders get caught up in their preferences…More to the point, a leader is less likely to shift style from right to left brain thinking or vice versa with the ease as Obama does.”

So can someone who tends to be more of a right brainer train themselves to develop their left brain and vice versa? Dr. Décosterd believes so. “The best way to encourage a shift in brain style is to make your brain more pliable. To do so you could introduce novel stimulus to your brain — new sights, tastes, scents for example, as well as being OPEN to new ways of thinking — listen to differing views without being dismissive,” she told us. “Another way to encourage a shift is through engaging in behaviors that are more alter-brain.”

What kind of thinker are you? Left brain, right brain, or both? Last week, we asked you to give us some examples of each. After receiving a ton of feedback via Twitter and Facebook (and after much deliberation), we’ve selected a few of the many great examples you gave us to create this updated version of the infographic.

Between Minds: Right Brain vs Left Brain Names
You’re welcome to embed this image on your blog, the code is here:

[sourcecode language="html"]
<a title="Right Brain vs. Left Brain Thinkers" href="http://bit.ly/Jf0gGs"><img src="http://images.learn.mindjet.com/EloquaImages/clients/MindjetLLC/%7B506e717d-442f-4ecc-a4f9-d5c2c242ee86%7D_JESS3_Mindjet_BetweenMinds_RBvLB_Names-final.jpg" alt="Creative Leader versus Do Leadership" /></a> Infographic from <a title="Collaboration Tools from Mindjet" href="http://www.mindjet.com">Mindjet</a>
[/sourcecode]

Also, be sure to take a look at some of the explorations of how the infographic came to be below.

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