All leaders are like thermostats. Their chief role is to be able to set the ‘temperature’ or culture of the work environment that enables a team to be able to flourish and produce a result. Below are 3 crucial behaviours that if modeled consistently will influence the ‘climate’ conducive to productive teams:
1. Give people your energy and not just your time (Develop ‘presence’)
Our ability to interact with so many possibilities in the space of any given period of time has brought our attention under siege… Driving while on the phone (lets be honest), checking emails in the middle of a meeting, responding to a text message while in a conversation with someone,.. of all times in history the capacity to be ‘in the moment’ for most of us is finite.
Being able to quiet the mind has undeniable value in terms of the level of presence perceived from those around us.
Presence is a way of communicating ‘I care’ without the use of words and it may well be more powerful than anything we could say in the first place.
As the old saying goes, ‘people will forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel’. Think about the last time you were caught in a conversation with someone who was constantly checking their phone or was distracted in some way. How did that make you feel?
When people feel that someone cares, they are more likely to form a trusting relationship and respond reciprocally with their own investment of time and energy, but there has to be a proven track record of emotional deposits first before we can expect the return on investment. This is the essence of trust…
2.Understand the power of a ‘handshake’ (Value others and strengthen camaraderie)
Let’s imagine you’re watching your favourite sports team score a goal, a home run or get a touchdown. Wouldn’t it be slightly weird if after a team member scored that nobody high fived, hugged or fist bumped?
Physical contact demonstrates a sign of safety and it reinforces a sign of loyalty to a person. It’s actually science; oxytocin is what gives physical contact its flavour and is our biological pathway to security and trust.
How often do our staff and teams leave the end of their day like it was the site of common transaction? Are there opportunities occurring when they hit targets and meet deadlines to strengthen these social bonds?
I’m not saying that after every win individuals need to be met with a ‘group hug’ but more so asking the question: what are we doing to infuse our cultures with that sense that each individual belongs and is praised with more than a simple ‘good job’ or ‘thanks’?
Working in devalued environments or feeling as though the boss doesn’t like us kick starts the low-grade adrenaline response that suppresses immune markers, elevating rates of illness as well as suppressing empathy.
The more chronically stressed an individual becomes the less capacity they have to be selfless and work for the good of the team and others.
Instead it becomes about protection and survival – cortisol, the notorious stress hormone, under chronic exposure inhibits the chemical responsible for empathy, oxytocin.
3. Never forsake the staff Christmas party (Bring people together more often)
We all have a need to form bonds of trust. In Mihaly Csikzsentmihalyi’s book, ‘Flow’, he discusses a key concept relevant to today’s workplace cultures:
‘Preoccupation with self consumes psychic energy because in everyday life we often feel threatened. Whenever we are threatened we need to bring the image of ourselves back into awareness, so we can find out whether or not the threat is serious, and how we should meet it’
Consider the world many of our employees live in today, its virtual. We have formed virtual communities via the social network of Facebook, Instagram and text messaging, but it ultimately doesn’t satisfy. Our seeming need to always want to check who has liked our posts or photos or persistent checking of our emails and phones means one thing; we have become a transactional society. We justify a deposit with the sacrifice of a ‘button’ yet forsake the investment of quality face to face time that is leaving us high and dry of a proper emotional deposit. This leads to individuals feeling threatened, insecure and unsafe. When we begin to focus inward, we can’t transcend, serve one another, share ideas, or feel part of a team, simply because it feels too risky when we don’t form these bonds of trust.
The more simplified our communication with people, the more shallow our relationships with people become, and the less cohesiveness our teams have.
I’m curious, what action are you taking to build innovative cultures within your teams?