Trust to Improve Performance

Trust to Improve Performance

What’s the secret to improving your teams’ motivation and performance? You’ve probably asked yourself this plenty of times when measures that you’ve put in place haven’t been as effective as you’d hoped. You have great incentives in place for your team, you’ve streamlined your processes and procedures to make things as efficient as possible, but you’re still not getting their best.

Gallup conducted a 142 country study on the State of the Global Workplace, and found the following shocking statistics:

  • 60% of Australian employees are “not engaged” – meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organisational goals or outcomes.
  • 16% are “actively disengaged”, indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to co-workers.
  • Only 24% are “engaged”.


So how do you get your employees engaged, motivated and working hard? Something that you have to earn – trust.

Without trust, your team won’t be working to the best of their ability. If they can’t trust in their leaders, why should they put in more than the minimum amount of effort?

Author and professor of economic sciences, psychology, and management at Claremont Graduate University, Paul J. Zak, measured oxytocin levels and brain activity as people worked, over eight years. Oxytocin is the hormone that affects parts of our interaction and behaviours including trust. His research showed that trust within an organisation is absolutely vital to performance, and also that there are eight ways to quantify and boost trust within a workplace. Luckily for us, Zak made these into an acronym – OXYTOCIN – so it’s easy to remember.

Let’s take a look at what OXYTOCIN stands for 


Positive reinforcement (like rewards and recognition) has been shown to trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is linked to motivation and effort, so it’s important to recognise and reward your team for great performance because then they’ll want to continue working to that high standard. Nobody likes working hard without that effort being acknowledged.


Expectations need to be set and made clear, so employees know what they’re working towards. Make sure that your team knows they’re part of the big picture, and explain just how they are. When you get your team involved in the mission, knowing that they are directly influencing the success of that mission and your organisation boosts their motivation and commitment to meeting and excelling at their goals and your expectations.


Micromanaging gets you nowhere; as a leader you must be able to effectively make decisions and delegate tasks. Foster a safe environment of learning – mistakes aren’t the end of the world, just make sure to learn from them – and your team members will thrive when given more responsibility, and work more autonomously knowing they won’t be punished for mistakes. They will feel motivated and empowered from being trusted to do important tasks.


Transfer refers to enabling your team to ‘job-craft’ – make their job their own, and make their own decisions about how they define success.

Research undertaken by the University of Michigan showed that allowing employees to job-craft resulted in higher levels of job fulfilment and engagement. This means less staff turnover as well.


Being transparent and open with information relating to your organisation builds trust with your team because it shows that you’re being honest with them. You’d be surprised how much time and effort is taken up when your team is wondering what’s going on, so be sure to practice openness when communicating with your team.

Team members appreciate being told what’s going on, even if it’s not always good news since it gives them a chance to voice their opinions and give their input. When employees feel heard, they also feel valued and so want to return the favour and work harder.

We have launched our NEW Performance Team Coaching Program – find out more HERE! 


During his research, Zak saw a variety of studies that showed how important relationships (including friendships) are on retention, productivity, health and overall job satisfaction. Encourage relationship building amongst your team by providing plenty of team-building opportunities such as collaboration between departments, and making sure to reward great teamwork.

If your organisation isn’t getting across how important workplace relationships can be, then your team won’t be trying too hard to build their networks.


Invest in your team; provide them with training and opportunities for reward and advancement, and you’ll see a big improvement in their engagement. Your team will also trust you more, as they see how much you value them by choosing to invest in them. Feeling valued like this is a great motivator for employees to do their best.


The best leaders aren’t afraid to be vulnerable; being authentic and natural shows your employees that you’re human too and that they don’t have to be perfect because you aren’t either. When your team can relate to you, they’re inspired to be more open and honest as well. This allows them to ask for help sooner, instead of fearing being reprimanded, which means time isn’t wasted and work can be carried out more competently and efficiently.

Trust isn’t exactly something you can measure, but it’s a huge part of getting your team to consistently perform at their best. What Zak found from his research is that when you have people working for organisations that have an emphasis on trust, they are 76% more engaged, 50% more productive, and 50% more likely to stay in that organisation. You can’t argue with those results!

If you’re a leader who wants to step up your game and start encouraging a culture of trust in your workplace using resources backed by extensive research and with proven results, check out our Leadership Attitude Academy here, or book a coaching session here. 


Leadership a Deal Breaker for SME’s & Start-Ups

Leadership a Deal Breaker for SME’s & Start-Ups

This week I am the keynote speaker at the Ignite Conference at the Gympie Chamber on Leadership for SME’s, Start-Ups and Family Businesses. I have been reflecting on Leadership for SME’s a lot recently as well as speaking to many owners, founders and Directors of SME’s, Start-Ups and Family Businesses. There is a direct correlation between performance for these businesses and Leadership. Thing is when I am talking about Leadership, I mean self-leadership; knowing who you are as a person and leader and how your actions and behaviours drive culture and performance.

Why is it critical today? Strong leadership is important in a company of any size, but it is especially crucial when looking at SMEs and Start-Ups. With technology always improving, customer demands ever-changing and a fluctuating economy, leaders who can handle these obstacles and inspire their team to do the same are worth their weight in gold to any small or medium-sized business. Great leaders get their teams working to a high standard and give them the confidence to be able to overcome issues that arise, by fostering a suitable organisational culture that allows employees to feel valued and trusted. Recently Joanna Wyganowska conducted research on exploring how leadership and culture contribute to the sustainable success of high growth companies, reveals that these issues play a pivotal role and need to be better understood by high growth founders and company leaders. She found leadership was a deal breaker.

SMEs and Start-Ups need to be more adept at handling challenges than their larger counterparts, due to the fact they have fewer resources, so there’s less room for error. Most SMEs and Start-Ups turn their focus onto surviving in the business world; appointing leaders who may not be formally qualified or educated over those that are, because of the emphasis on learning on-the-job. This, in turn, affects leadership development and progression, as there are no clear requirements for leadership, and those who are not qualified are training the future leaders the same way they were taught, which is often detrimental to the success of an SME or Start-Up and perpetuates a cycle of poor leadership. If this cycle isn’t broken, an SME or Start-Up won’t ever reach its full potential – great leaders are needed to keep a company growing and advancing on the right track.

“One of the biggest changes a business goes through as it scales is the handing over of an idea from the founder to the people working in the organisation. The brand moves from being one person’s idea to being the professional focus of a whole group of people.”

Charlotte Keenan, head of the corporate engagement office EMEA at Goldman Sachs.

As Ms Keenan says, transitioning the day-to-day operations and running of the business from the founder/s to other team members and leaders is a big challenge to all SMEs and Start-Ups face as they grow. It’s important for a founder to have a team below them that aligns with their vision, values and beliefs, and shares the same passion for the organisation and its goals, as this is critical to success.

If you are interested in a leadership plan for yourself or your team sign up here.



Founders need to ensure they are choosing strong leaders to guide the employees and company in the right direction; the right leader will motivate your team to work their hardest and achieve great results and keep the organisation culture running smoothly. If your employees are working under a leader who cannot delegate, is hard to communicate with, doesn’t take responsibility for their mistakes or passes the blame, they will have low levels of job satisfaction and will be directly impacting the success of an SME or Start-Up through lack of performance. Leaders who micromanage will also have team morale at unacceptable levels, and again it’s the SME or Start-Up that will suffer. When a founder can trust that their leaders are performing at their best, and getting the same from their team, they are free to focus on other areas to help the business grow. Here is an interesting perspective from HBR too on Leadership and Start-Ups.

“As the team grows, founders often react by micromanaging the details of their business. In trying to take on everyone else’s job, the founder leaves the most critical position vacant. Learning to trust and empower others in the organisation leaves room for them to continue innovating, which is critical for business growth.”

Charlotte Keenan.

Leadership development is something many SMEs or Start-Ups don’t provide for their staff; they don’t place the importance on leadership that they should and think that less than qualified leaders teaching the next leaders is an acceptable practice. Resources may be sparse, and leadership development may seem like an unnecessary expense, but the lack of strong leadership will cost an SME or Start-Up a lot more. It’s something that must be made a focus for all if they wish to not just survive but thrive.

We want you to thrive.

LeadershipHQ have launched a free Business and Organisational Leadership Health Quiz and Leadership Performance Coaching for your SME, Family Business or Start-Up. If you would like to know more please contact the team today at [email protected]


5 Keys to Building Great Connections

5 Keys to Building Great Connections

The lifeblood of any successful career and business is in building great connections. Whether building new connections with potential clients or strengthening relationships with your existing network, making sure they are meaningful is essential to growing your business.

For extroverts, this is often second nature. But for many people, it can be quite challenging.

By using professional networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter, it can be easy to make an initial connection, but then to have virtually no direct contact for an extended period very quickly.

Think about your professional network, how many people have you not engaged with for well over a year?

Here are 5 keys to Building Great Connections:

1. Find a Way To Add Value

Instead of just sending random connection requests on LinkedIn, first, find a way to help that person. Take some time to work out what the potential contact’s concerns and wishes are. Then find a way you can offer a solution to their problem. It’s the perfect way to start a relationship which is a two-way street.

2. Ask Your Contact’s Opinions

Your contacts are part of your network for a reason, so be sure to reach out and take advantage of their wealth of knowledge and experience. Reach out to a contact when they may be able to assist, ask them about their life, and then be sure to thank them for their assistance.

3. Offer Professional Leads

If you hear of an opportunity which may be appropriate, let people in your network know. Rather than just jobs or referrals, focus on things like speaking opportunities, committees, special projects, and board positions. Also, offer to provide an introduction.

4. Keep Your Network Current

With LinkedIn, it is easier than ever to build a network of connections, fast, and develop a professional and modern business Rolodex. Instead of just connecting with people and disappearing, keep in touch through updates, sharing content, congratulating connections on their achievements, and furthering your connection network.

5. Make A Real And Genuine Connection

Watch my 2-minute YouTube video on Connection –

If you want your network to be made up of people who know you, like you, and trust you, then just sending a friend request, liking updates and posts, isn’t enough.

Introductions work best to make a real connection. Depending on what suits you – either online or offline is fine, but be sure to be genuine. Start with letting the contact know a little about you, and also provide them with some value in their life.

To further develop your business connections skills and connect with greatness, check out our Business & Leadership Coaching and Programs at LeadershipHQ.

Experience LeadershipHQ and you will leverage the best of the best in Leadership, Culture, and Business.

Stay tuned for our new program and group – The Business Collective in Brisbane. Register your interest HERE.

If you are looking to work with me Exclusively in my Coaching Program; please the Overview, Outcomes, and Bonuses HERE plus a FREE Career or Strategy Plan.

Managing the Mental Health of Your Team

Managing the Mental Health of Your Team

With each passing year it seems that our lives become busier, and more stressful. The Internet has helped all of us to reach out into the world and become more connected with one another, as well as more informed.

This increase in knowledge and constant connection, however, makes it difficult to unplug and take a break. Now more than ever before, it really is too easy for our work duties to bleed over into our personal lives. Each of us is constantly “plugged in” and “on,” and multi-tasking as we’re on the go checking our emails, and returning phone calls, nearly around the clock. Add additional pressures to this scenario, such as the constant push to get more done at work with fewer resources, and you have the perfect recipe for stress related illnesses.

With this constant immersion in activity, it really should not come as a surprise to anyone that stress from our personal and professional lives is taking a toll. We see the results in the form of an increase in the number of sick days taken at work. More subtly, we see the results of stress taking a toll on the mental health of those that we work with, as well as ourselves.

“It is estimated that 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. These conditions tend to affect individuals during their prime working years.”

Why the Mental Health of Your Team Matters

According to data reported by Heads Up and The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, depression and other forms of mental illness are costing Australian businesses nearly 11 billion dollars each year. In addition to an increase in the number of sick days taken by employees, mental illness affects the morale and engagement of all employees and results in a decrease in productivity and efficiency.

Not only does turnover increase, but untreated mental health issues among associates can lead to an increased risk of loss, and a potential negative impact on the reputation of your business. Finding ways to manage, and improve, the mental health of your employees by creating a healthy workplace is fast becoming one of the most important challenges that leaders at all levels face.

Signs Your Team’s Mental Health May be at Risk

An important first step in managing the mental health of your team is to look for signs that may point to an increased risk of mental illness. Depression and anxiety are the two most common forms of mental illness.

Understanding their symptoms can help you to identify associates who are at risk so that you can take proactive steps to reduce their level of stress at work as well as potentially make referrals for employee assistance so that workers can get help coping with symptoms associated with illness.

“1 in 5 Australian adults will experience a mental illness in any given year”

Common Signs of Depression

It’s normal for all of us to feel a bit down at times. After all, each of us faces obstacles and disappointments that can be quite challenging to cope with and overcome. Depression, however, is more than feeling a little out of sorts.

Most healthcare professionals advise that symptoms of true depression last two weeks or longer, and can include an increase in feelings of anger, unhappiness and disappointment. Someone suffering from depression may also feel overwhelmed, and feel unconfident, sad, and be indecisive.

They may withdraw from their peers and normal circle of friends and other contacts. It becomes hard for them to concentrate and they may miss even the simplest of deadlines. Often they will call in sick to work, and may turn to alcohol or other chemicals in an effort to cope with their symptoms.

“Untreated depression results in 6 million working days lost each year in Australia”

Common Signs of Anxiety

Anxiety often develops over a period of time, and while there are different types of anxiety, symptoms are often more subtle and harder to spot than the symptoms commonly associated with other types of mental illness. Most people who experience anxiety feel that they are always on edge and can’t relax. They may feel a sensation of panic or hysteria and constantly worry and be unable to relax and “let down” their guard against a real or perceived threat. Feelings of anxiety can produce physical symptoms as well, such as an increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure as well as difficulty sleeping.

Your team member may suffer from anxiety if you notice that they are easily startled, or appear to be under constant tension. They may start to avoid meetings, or specific people or locations within your facility. They may adopt obsessive behaviors or rituals in an attempt to find relief and relax. They may become less assertive and avoid making decisions as well as avoid eye contact with others.

It’s important to remember that just because a member of your team seems to exhibit these symptoms; it doesn’t mean that they have an actual mental illness. Whether or not a member of your team exhibits these symptoms, there are a number of steps that leaders can take to reduce the amount of stress which may contribute to the development of these and similar symptoms.

Don’t forget to check back for a follow up post where you can learn more about the proactive steps that you can take to create a healthier workplace that reduces the stress that your team faces.

Stay tuned for the Mental Matters Leadership Summit in Brisbane!

Leadership and Innovation

Leadership and Innovation

Henry Ford was right on the money when he famously said “If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Ford had no idea of the innovation that was to come in his lifetime and beyond, yet his words continue to have relevance decades after his death.

In any leadership role, it’s essential to walk the talk and lead by example, and this is particularly important relating to innovation and technology. Here we’re defining innovation as ‘applied creativity that achieves business value’ (David S. Weiss and Claude Legrand, Innovative Intelligence).

Executive surveys consistently highlight the gap between what is delivered by an organisation versus what leaders or consumers say they want, and this has been coined the ‘innovation gap’. The processes and types of thinking that make leaders successful in the first place are in fact what hold them back when it comes to moving forward and being innovative. Analytical thinking is a powerful tool in solving complicated issues but it is innovative thinking that is required to continue to increase productivity and achieve business value.

Often innovation springs out as a result of a crisis in the market or in response to a problem or challenge. For example, Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals as his eyesight worsened. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.

But not all innovation has to be at such a significant level, nor does it have to take significant innovation to inspire your team. Something as simple as being seen to do something differently can be all it takes for leaders to inspire innovation. The use of Information Technology is an obvious area where leaders can introduce new processes or strategies, and lead by example to create a culture of innovation.

For me and I know for many people I work with, and all the amazing innovators out there, innovation can appear through that A-ha moment. That moment when your mind is quiet and an idea just pops into your head. That happens to me all the time especially when I am swimming. Listen to them! What are they trying to tell you? Hence over Xmas, some innovations popped into my head. Well it is summer over here and lots of swimming!

So I decided to build a Leadership Magazine. At Leadership HQ we most certainly believe in leading by example and are being seen as doing something different to inspire and lead our clients and partners. My idea was to harness technology to inspire and encourage innovation through our brand new online LeadershipHQ e-Magazine which will bring you the latest insights in the business world and up to date strategies on leadership. Way cool…

Our innovation through technology doesn’t stop there! We also launched a Leadership App. I was so excited when we launched this. Our LeadershipHQ app provides you with cutting edge and practical insights, knowledge and research in leadership. Available for both Apple and android devices, we wanted to innovate something that will assist you to be the best leader you can be. Of course the app will include the latest in our services, consulting, blogs, and invitations to our great events, videos and insights, it’s all there. Now that is what I call innovation! Why – because we thought outside the square and we saw a need to bring to the market ideas and solutions that focussed on our purpose and our WHY.

There are so many leadership magazines and interventions out there but we wanted to develop ideas that were easy to read, use and educate. Something informative, inspirational and practical. Innovation takes persistence, passion and purpose. Think about the Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. And by the way, we are looking for contributors too, we want to share everyone’s innovations and ideas around leadership. We are in the business of thinking outside the square so we can be the best leaders we can be.

What are you doing to think differently and bring into your world; innovation…

Workplace Collaboration

Workplace Collaboration

Workplace Collaboration

Working with Your People, Transforming your Leadership

As leaders, if we want our organisations to remain competitive, it’s imperative that we transform them into literal engines that drive increases in efficiency, productivity and innovation. In the past, leaders achieved results simply by controlling their resources and their people. This type of leadership, controlling and authoritarian in nature, no longer works well in today’s interconnected and interdependent world. “Managing” your people and resources is no longer enough to succeed.


Challenges to Collaboration

To be effective today, leaders must learn how to encourage collaboration and use it to create an environment that fosters creativity, productivity and innovation in order to drive growth. Rather than using control to manage people, the collaborative leader acts as a facilitator to link together people, ideas and resources.
A collaborative leader uses their skills to build trust, develop relationships and empower their people. They create an inclusive, open workspace that is full of energy, boosting passion, productivity and enjoyment. In a collaborative environment, work isn’t just efficient and productive; traditional barriers are removed and your people feel free; they are empowered to share and help one another accomplish your objectives and work becomes vibrant, creative and fun!
Many leaders have difficulty in adopting collaborative leadership because it means that they must check their ego and willingly surrender power in favour of building partnerships where everything, control, resources and credit, is shared. Others dismiss the benefits of adopting collaborative leadership because they worry that giving up power will make them appear weak and lead to the perception by others that they are less effective.


Top Leadership Skills that Support Collaboration

Collaboration isn’t about being weak and submissive however; it’s about using one’s skills to empower one another and increase the strength and effectiveness of every team member and partner. Leaders with a high degree of self-confidence and a strong sense of self often find it easier to enter into collaborative partnerships. Being forward thinking and open to new ways of thinking and doing things, being flexible and embracing both risk and change are also helpful to leaders that wish to encourage cooperation and collaboration.
In collaborative leadership, leaders rely on their networks and personal connections rather than formal control structures to attract, influence and motivate top talent. They use their communication skills to encourage interaction and connection between diverse groups of people. Empathy, determination and patience help these leaders to be able to manage conflict and build their coalitions.


How to Encourage Cooperation and Collaboration in Your Organisation

Adopting a collaborative leadership strategy is not solely about improving certain leadership skills. It also takes a bit more than simply making the decision that you want to encourage collaboration in your workplace.
As a leader, you truly set the tone and create your organisation’s culture. It literally is up to you to blaze the trail and model the attitudes and behaviour that you want your team to adopt. If you want to encourage collaboration, your actions must match your words, you literally must walk the walk!
Rather unwittingly, many leaders poison their own well and destroy any chance of creating a workspace that encourages cooperation and collaboration. In a video detailing research into what makes us open to collaboration conducted by IBM, Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman discusses how something as simple as the way a leader appears dressed at a gathering can have a direct and dire influence on collaboration.

In order to change your corporate culture into one that encourages collaboration, leaders must make certain that their actions match their words and their goals. There are a few questions that you can ask yourself that will help guide you to your own personal “problem areas” and point the way to things you can work on to encourage collaboration in your organisation.

  • What messages, both verbal and physical, are you sending to your people? If you truly want greater cooperation and collaboration is this the behaviour that you are modelling for your people?
  • What steps are you taking to show that collaboration is important to you and that you are serious about breaking down barriers and increasing communication and openness within your organisation?
  • Are you accessible to your people? How many “gates” and “hoops” do your people have to go through before they can communicate and share information or other resources with you and others?
  • Are you making it easy for others to “want” to help you?
  • What steps are you taking to share the glory and limelight with those that do cooperate and collaborate and achieve results?
  • Have you thought about potential conflicts, both internal and external, that may develop as you move forward? Do you have a plan to handle these conflicts when they do occur so that you keep your people working with one another and for you instead of working against everyone?


As you think about the answers to these questions, don’t worry if you discover that you need some help developing a strategy to move your organisation forward or find that you need to strengthen some of your leadership skills – we’re here to help you. Get in touch today to learn more about how our personalised coaching and consulting services can help you.