How to generate trust in organization: 7/8 – Choose your battles

This is the 7th posting from a series of 8 short articles “How to generate trust in an organization”. The topics spring to life from my own experiences as well as from various books and articles I’ve read in the past. The most influential writers have no doubt been John C. Maxwell and Simon Sinek. Both emphasize the importance of high moral driven “people first” leadership.

How to generate trust in organization: 7 – Choose your battles

Positive feedback improves employees’ self esteem and eventually will raise their motivation. And a motivated employee is much more creative, effective and proactive than an unmotivated one. That is why it is often much better to say something nice than to point out what could have been done better. Great leaders are aware that everything can be done better – but it is better to choose the battles that make a real difference.

With time it is possible to raise the standards and coach anyone to be at least a good expert. Being great requires passion, talent and hard work – these elements are not available to all, so make sure you don’t waste too much time with a person who does not aim for excellence.

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How Hormones Shape Our Behavior – Including How We Lead

12.2.2017

I just read the great article from Harvard Business Review about “The Neuroscience of Trust.” The article thoroughly dives into creating trust in a workplace from neuroscience’s point of view. Why this is a particularly interesting topic and also very relevant for every leader is in short:

Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.

Fascinating timing

The timing of HBR’s article is of course very suitable as I have lately been thinking a lot of the same topic: You might even have noticed that I already have released whole bunch of postings about the topic based on my own experiences. Although my list is not written as to be series of scientific articles, the direction still point’s to the same direction: The trust is generated by trusting and taking each individual as an individual – all people are not the same, but the mechanisms that affect us are quite often the same for everybody.

All people are not the same, but the mechanisms that affect us are quite often the same for everybody.

Oxytocin – the hormone that makes you care and do the extra effort

The brain network that oxytocin activates is evolutionarily old. This means that the trust and sociality that oxytocin enables are deeply embedded in our nature. Yet at work we often get the message that we should focus on completing tasks, not on making friends. Neuroscience experiments by my lab show that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves. A Google study similarly found that managers who “express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being” outperform others in the quality and quantity of their work.

In the HBR article the writer Paul J. Zak emphasizes the importance of oxytocin (I.e. the hormone that deepens the relationships between many mammals). That  is something very important to understand. So important, that you should read the article right now, right here: https://hbr.org/2017/01/the-neuroscience-of-trust.

Even by the risk that you might not remember to come back. But that is the risk I am willing to take in order to help you to understand the hormones significance to our behavior both as leaders and persons who are being led.

I am not an endocrinologist, but I can have a look

I am very convinced that hormones are one of the most important factors in determining our behavior in everything we do. As it is quite obvious that I am not an endocrinologist, I still have read quite much about the topic. At least enough so that I know that our actions are guided by few strong hormones including – but not limited to – adrenaline, dopamine, estrogen, oxytocin, serotonin, and testosterone. No human can escape the influence of these hormones and even a slight imbalance usually leads to noticeable health and/or mental issues. Although these problems are not the focus of my blog, I do think that this HBR article is enough to point out that understanding our biological influencers will help us to understand how we should be led, as well as why we work the way we work.

What does this mean?

By understanding some few principles we suddenly are capable to understand better both ourselves as well as our colleagues, bosses, spouses, teenagers, random strangers  and even leaders of nations.  For example did you know that it is the testosterone that helps you to take risks but also makes you lust for power – at the same time reducing empathy.

Because of this it is also worth mentioning that due to this, women are often much better in situations when it boils down to the empathy skills. Actually, the effects of testosterone(s) and estrogen(s) are the big reasons why men differ from women and vice versa – it’s the hormones that shape us to be different, not the gender. To neglect this fact would not be smart thing to do.

But let me make one thing clear: I feel very strongly that all people are equal and should have the same possibilities. Said that, I also think we should be able use our gender strengths when aiming to do winning strategies. It’s like finding your super power and focusing into it:Strenghten your strengths

Human resources protip

I also want to share this scientific founding from Psychology Today – it could be a deal-breaker for many leaders around the world:

In experiments, when status-striving, high-testosterone men are stripped of their status, they become angry, excited, and cognitively impaired. But more surprising, men with low resting-testosterone, without much impetus for status, become angry and impaired when placed in high-status positions they simply do not want.

So as many of you might know, it is very often a mistake to promote experts to work as managers IF they do not show signs of being interested in leadership. Leadership position should never be an accident waiting to happen.

Leadership position should never be an accident waiting to happen.

If you remember 3 things, remember these

  1. The trust should not be left to be generated by an accident, there are several ways to create it
  2. Our behavior is strongly affected by our hormones
  3. All people are not the same, but the mechanisms that affect us are quite often the same for everybody.
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How to generate trust in organization: 6/8 – Be consistent and fair

This is the 6th posting from a series of 8 short articles “How to generate trust in an organization”. The topics spring to life from my own experiences as well as from various books and articles I’ve read in the past. The most influential writers have no doubt been John C. Maxwell and Simon Sinek. Both emphasize the importance of high moral driven “people first” leadership.

How to generate trust in organization: 6 – Be consistent and fair

Sure signs of a lousy leader are being irrational or favoring people. If people are scared of the leader’s mood swings or know that no matter they do, they cannot get their approval – moral is very likely to be bad. Even the favored people are usually aware of the shittyness of a bad leader, but tolerate it as they are getting an advantage from it.

Irrational people make lousy leaders.
The article continues after the image.

It should be noted that being fair doesn’t mean that an organization should be “a communistic system” where everybody gets the same despite of their role or efforts. High performance should be rewarded, but everyone should have the same possibilities to be rewarded.

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How to generate trust in organization: 5/8 – Never run away from responsibility

This is the 5th posting from a series of 8 short articles “How to generate trust in an organization”. The topics spring to life from my own experiences as well as from various books and articles I’ve read in the past. The most influential writers have no doubt been John C. Maxwell and Simon Sinek. Both emphasize the importance of high moral driven “people first” leadership.

How to generate trust in organization: 5 – Never run away from responsibility

Leaders are expected to lead and carry the weight of sometimes hard decisions. Quite often they are paid better than the average white collar worker because of responsibilities. If leaders end up trying to run away from their duties, they are not worth their salary.

But be careful: great leaders do not micromanage. Check out this Protip 1 I wrote earlier about the topic.“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.”

 

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How to generate trust in organization: 4/8 – Keep your promises

This is the 4th posting from a series of 8 short articles “How to generate trust in an organization”. The topics spring to life from my own experiences as well as from various books and articles I’ve read in the past. The most influential writers have no doubt been John C. Maxwell and Simon Sinek. Both emphasize the importance of high moral driven “people first” leadership.

"Keep every promise you make and only make promises you can keep."

How to generate trust in organization: 4 – Keep your promises

It is too easy to postpone decisions by saying “let’s do or get that later, next month, next spring, next financial year…” but guess what –  if you never plan to keep that promise:

  1. It is much better to say that it is not possible.
  2. Remember to say why it is not possible (and people usually understand).
  3. Never lie or make promises that you cannot keep.

Those leaders who end up not keeping their promises quickly end up tagged as weak bullshit talkers. And surprise surprise: weak leaders are not considered as good leaders.

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Protip 2: What is a strategy in short?

Every successful business is based on a winning strategy. But quite often the strategy is mystified to be something next to magic or rocket science. That is not the case, as everyone of us is capable of strategic thinking and planning. (But it is worth mentioning that not everyone is a good strategist or a planner…) We actually come up with different strategies daily, and if we simplify to the extreme:  a strategy is a plan.

And in a slightly more detailed level:

To have a strategy is to have a plan to win – in a particular position and in a particular way.

The Winning StrategyAnother very important thing to understand is that if a company doesn’t want to win, it is wasting the time of its people and investments of capital providers.

As simple as that. The tricky part is to come up with a winning strategy. That requires skill, knowledge and proper tools. And even with the skills, knowledge and tools the strategy is still just an educated guess – as there never is 100% guarantee that it actually will work and turn out to be the winning horse.

To get started, I recommend reading “Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works” by A.G. Lafley.

To get the basic tools to build up a winning strategy I advise you to stay tuned, as I will later write more about those.

Until that please remember:

To have a strategy is to have a plan to win!

Due to excessive amount of spamming to this post the comments are closed.
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How to generate trust in organization: 3/8 – Show that you care

This is the 3rd posting from a series of 8 short articles “How to generate trust in an organization”. The topics spring to life from my own experiences as well as from various books and articles I’ve read in the past. The most influential writers have no doubt been John C. Maxwell and Simon Sinek. Both emphasize the importance of high moral driven “people first” leadership.

How to generate trust in organization: 3 – Show that you care

Listen, discuss, ask questions that are not about you – but the person you are talking with. Remember this: Great leaders understand that it is never about me, it’s always about you.

When discussing, focus your attention 100% to the person you are having the conversation with. Do not browse the Internet, excel, social media or newspaper. If there is no time and possibility to focus, and the employee wants to have a conversation, politely and patiently express that you are busy and arrange a private meeting with them.

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

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How to generate trust in organization: 2/8 – Be honest

This is the 2nd posting from a series of 8 short articles “How to generate trust in an organization”. The topics spring to life from my own experiences as well as from various books and articles I’ve read in the past. The most influential writers have no doubt been John C. Maxwell and Simon Sinek. Both emphasize the importance of high moral driven “people first” leadership.

How to generate trust in organization: 2 – Be honest

Never lie, steal or tell things that are not true. People scan your behavior constantly and even small wrong deeds are up-scaled. Meaning that even the one cinnamon roll you took without permission in front of your employee gives the signal that you are a dishonest person by nature. This gives an example for the employee that honesty is not an appreciated value. Don’t do that. Period.

"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters." Albert Einstein

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The patient reader bonus:)

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How to generate trust in organization: 1/8 – Defend your tribe

FOREWORD

This is the 1st posting from a series of 8 short articles “How to generate trust in an organization”. The topics spring to life from my own experiences as well as from various books and articles I’ve read in the past. The most influential writers have no doubt been John C. Maxwell and Simon Sinek. Both emphasize the importance of high moral driven “people first” leadership.

Why generate trust?

In my opinion, a leadership that is based on trust and service to others is the only possible way to build up a lasting high performance organization. And if you need (?) some rational proofs why so, please note that there are plenty of studies* which prove that the happiness within comes from helping others to excel.

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”
John C. Maxwell

The following series is my interpretation of the best practices available to generate trust, which I consider as the foundation of any great place to work.

How to generate trust in organization: 1 – Defend your tribe

The most efficient practice by far in creating trust is the feeling of playing in the same team. The best leaders are trusted to be the guardians of employees during a time of struggle. It can take only one defending act to make an employee a lifelong follower and friend. The amount of gratitude generated by defending your tribe is almost beyond comprehension with high moral people. But if the leader is not shielding his or her troops from injustice the result is quite the opposite.

The article continues after the image.

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*:

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To Excel Now And In The Future

In my opinion

If we are truly interested in the organizational growth and excellence, it is crucial to tap into collective wisdom and to the brainpower of many. Modern leadership is not about forcing people to execute one’s vision. The more there are brains working to solve problem, the more likely it is that the best solution is found in a shorter time. This is pretty simple math.

It is also good to note that by committing employees to the company – by letting them co-create the vision – the leader is not deemed to take all of the pressure of the progress by him- or herself.

To excel now and in the future

  1. The organization must get better in the things it is good at
  2. The organization must be willing to try learning, creating, and innovating something new that has demand I.e. someone is willing to pay for.
“Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.”
Steve Jobs

What if the organization focuses just on the another one?

If the organization focuses on just getting better in where it is good at, there will be a time when our product/service will be obsolete. Think for a second about Kodak, Blockbuster, Reader’s Digest…

“Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana.”
Bill Gates

If the organization uses too much time just on innovating and never releases a product or service, there is a risk that someone will go out and steal the business opportunity. It is also possible that in reality there is no market available or the world just is not ready yet for the product/service. The latter two scenarios usually happen only if the strategic market research has been done poorly.

Timing

“Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.”
Hesiod

It is absolutely crucial to understand that the timing is the most important factor in business and growth: because customer demand is the key factor. Even if we had the perfect team with the perfect idea, business-model, and execution, there is no value without demand.

The role of an ever better leader

  1. The great modern leader is a servant of employees,
  2. who creates an atmosphere of trust and fellowship,
  3. where passionate people are able to reach their potential,
  4. with proper incentives to make miracles happen
  5. while making sure that the company is profitable.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Henry Ford

* : Co-creating the vision can get awesome results, but only if the organization is a high performing one. If people are not passionate and fully committed, the leader’s vision is crucial for the organization to survive. In an organization that is reactive and lacks motivation, the leader should first uproot possible organizational primal fears and increase motivation and happiness as I have written earlier. Then it is time to communicate the personal vision until the organization is ready to be co-creative.

This posting was inspired by my experiences and by the following TED Talks:

And as a curious reader bonus here is a checklist you can share, print and check all that apply:

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