When there is a climate of trust in organisations, employees will be empowered, says Kim Harvey, Leadership Development Facilitator and Director of training organisation, Neuroleaders. According to Kim, trust is simply achieved by doing what you say you will do – basically walking the talk. When managers do not follow through with what they say they are going to do, this can create mistrust.
“The benefits of creating a trusting and open environment from a neuroscience point of view means that dopamine is flowing in the brain which gives us a ‘feel good ‘ feeling and when we have this, innovation and creativity can flourish,” says Kim.
“It simply does not happen if we have high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol coursing through our veins, which happens if we are not trusted and have someone looking down our back.
“If we do not feel trust we feel like we are treading on eggshells. Consequently fear will start to rise in the body because we cannot relate to our boss or colleagues.
“Fear creates cortisol and when there is too much of this in your body, you will feel tense and emotional and when you are emotional you cannot think clearly. In turn this means that you will not be productive and certainly not creative or innovative.”
“I also help managers understand how much foreground and background conversations are going on in their business.
“Foreground conversations are those that are said in meetings and people leave and return back to their desks satisfied that everything was said in the meeting. Background conversations are when people come out of meetings and then have conversations with colleagues about what wasn’t said in the meeting.
When background conversations are happening, you know you haven’t created a trusting environment because people do not feel honest enough to bring issues to the foreground meeting.”
Kim believes that good leadership can be learnt and from a neuroscience perspective; research proves that the brain can be trained to take on more positive behaviours, an action known as neuroplasticity.
“For me, an inspirational leader is one who has a vision and is able to take people with him or her by empowering them to help achieve the vision,” says Kim.
“Regular coaching and communication between leaders and employees is what is required to build rapport and empower people to be the best they can be and help build the business.
“Trust is ultimately key to being an inspiring leader.”
Kim’s top tips for leaders on creating a climate of trust.
1. Do what you say you are going to do, consider your ‘say/do’ ratio – all talk and no action lowers credibility.
2. Set some ground rules with the team collectively to help you decide how you want to work together as a team. The ground rules should be measurable and preferably a set of behaviours, for example no moaning or groaning about the good old days, everyone should have the opportunity to say what is on their mind and be listened to.
3. Know personal information about your employees. Some managers treat employees like work robots and therefore do not spend time getting to know their employees likes and dislikes. We all know if someone spends time with us and genuinely is interested in us as people. We are likely to start trusting them because they seem honest and authentic.
4. Create a team charter specifically around the behaviours that individuals would like to see displayed amongst individuals. This helps everyone encourage each other to behave in a way that builds trust and creates motivation.
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