Executive functions are the cognitive abilities that enable individuals to effectively manage their attention. The efficient management of attention facilitates performance when individuals must think and act quickly and adaptively, or when job demands are novel and time is constrained. In organizations, these executive functions may be especially relevant for how successful leaders and managers perform in their several roles and how they further organizational goals. Yet, organizational behavior research has largely neglected an executive functioning lens. The present work illustrates how the core facets of executive functions inhibition, working memory, and shifting have implications for leadership and management outcomes by influencing common leadership tasks: decision-making, planning and monitoring, problem solving, negotiating, and innovating. Our goal is to supplement prevailing explanations of these tasks (e.g., general intelligence and job knowledge) with this executive functioning lens. We provide strategies for organizations to assess and bolster these executive functions in their leaders and managers and urge future organizational research to consider the important role of executive functions involved in the selection, training, and management of leaders and managers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Strategy and Management