Welcome to your new normal.

We spent the first 14 months of COVID consistently discussing “The New Normal.” Now, as some offices have reopened and others have shifted their once-stated policy on remote work, we’re beginning to actually arrive at The New Normal.

Team members will be dispersed everywhere. Managers must build conversational rapport as opposed to micromanaging tasks. Executives will need to take the big assumptions about hybrid work and realize most are falsehoods. And, even more complicated right now: until we get variants under control, there will be discussions about mandated vaccinations.

Chaos? Indeed.

You can’t solve all…

After more than a year of widespread WFH, it’s time to admit that the culture never was the building | Kate Sade, Unsplash

The transformed nightclub

An NLI employee used to work at an advertising agency in Texas. It was in a particularly conservative part of Texas (which really says something), but the physical building was in a somewhat more progressive, gentrifying area of a big city. In fact, the building at one point had been a gay nightclub. The founder of the agency bought it, lofted it for some cool-looking meeting spaces, and moved in his people. The agency grew.

Over time, the founder came to believe that the physical space was a chunk of the culture — cool architecture, pass-bys, kegs…

Leaders can set themselves apart, and ahead, by building these skills. | Photo: Markus Spiske, Unsplash

Leadership needs a grand commitment

General Motors (GM), a Fast Company Most Innovative Company, recently announced it will sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2035. The move sparked lots of discussion, largely positive, and other industries — i.e. healthcare — declared they “need their own Mary Barra,” a reference to the GM CEO and her leadership.

Barra and GM’s future vision got us thinking, then: what should leadership look like in 2035? What’s the grand commitment or vision for leaders 14 years from now? …


When governments issued lockdown orders earlier this year, organizations everywhere scrambled to move their learning programs online. Since then, a team at the NeuroLeadership Institute has conducted over 20 learning audits to assess how larger companies handled the transition. Unfortunately, our conversations revealed that most organizations took in-person learning programs, already poor at driving behavior change, and made them worse, not better.

We believe this is a terrible lost opportunity. Our research shows that virtual learning, when done right, can be dramatically more effective than in person workshops. In fact, an analysis of the likelihood of people taking action on…

Create the right systems to promote and sustain meaningful change at your organization.

By Dr. David Rock and Khalil Smith

We’ve written before on the importance of creating priorities, habits, and systems (PHS) when it comes to large-scale culture change.

But with so many organizations taking a renewed — or perhaps unprecedented — interest in reshaping their D&I efforts to boost inclusion, mitigate bias, and become more human overall, we felt compelled to revisit the model and explain the underlying science. Because when it comes to addressing systemic racism, you can’t do it just by making it a priority.

Here’s the elevator pitch on PHS: Priorities are necessary to change culture, but they…


By Dr. David Rock and Khalil Smith

If you’re feeling anxious about current events, you’re paying attention.

People everywhere have rarely experienced this level of collective emotions. Months of intense uncertainty have been compounded for many by feeling isolated at home. In the US, add to this a deep, seething anger over 100,000+ deaths, tragically skewed towards people of color, at least some of which could have been prevented with stronger leadership. This is mixed with extraordinary levels of unemployment, also skewed to people of color. …

This article originally appeared on Forbes on May 22, 2020.

As the world limps toward recovery, many news headlines seem to suggest we should accept this reality as our “new normal,” as if the story is all bad and out of our control. The truth is, while the pandemic and resulting economic impact are certainly outside our grasp, how we respond to crisis isn’t — especially at the level of each organization, and what we decide to do next.

At NLI, we believe this isn’t a time to build a new normal, but instead, a better normal. Why a better…

By David Rock and Khalil Smith

With coronavirus all but ensuring now that teams who can work remotely are doing so, you’ve probably been wondering how that migration will actually happen — and if it’s going to be good or bad for your teams and organization.

Here’s the short answer: yes, working remotely can be a good thing. As long as you do it right.

Let’s start with the research: A 2015 Stanford study of 500 employees over two years showed that working remotely increased total-factor productivity by between 20–30%, due in part to increased performance and lower overhead costs…

Photo by Chris Benson, Unsplash

All of us have been there at some point. It’s 3pm on a Wednesday. You’ve now been on six hours of phone calls with co-workers. And your brain appears to have stopped working. All you can hear is noise coming down the telephone, and you can’t seem to focus anymore.

Virtual work is the mainstay of today’s organization. Mostly it is infuriating, exhausting, and sadly, ineffective. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. …

Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning broadcast journalist and producer known for her work with CNN and HBO, including a series of documentaries about racial experience and inequality in America. She joined us recently for an interview on NLI’s podcast, Your Brain At Work, where we discussed the power of storytelling to create connections and foster inclusion.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

NLI: How did you become interested in storytelling as a medium for communicating ideas?

Soledad O’Brien: When I started working in documentaries, I realized pretty quickly that you can’t just lecture people with data…

David Rock

Author, consultant, CEO of the NeuroLeadership Group, and executive director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, board member of the BlueSchool

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