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.
2018 will be a year of change so it promises to be very exciting. While there are many possibilities ahead, here are seven of the key trends I see impacting our workplaces this year.
- Increasing importance of social development at work:
Our social group was for company as well as for self-protection. We were born to be connected, and we thrive on it. We see the effect in our brains where areas such as the amygdala are larger in people who have big social networks. That means they experience more connectedness and social awareness.
As we’ve come to realise how important this is, we’ve seen a shift in the way organisations are structured. This trend will continue and we will see a shift from competitive workers towards collaborative teams. More importantly, we will see more attention being paid to defining the role of the individual and the team, and how the work you do is important in the organisation. We’ll draw on the positive elements of social behaviour to make the workplace more cohesive, creative and supportive.
- The rise of collective leadership
The Center for Creative Leadership has pointed out that our perception of leadership is changing. Today we don’t want to look to one “heroic leader”; we prefer to work as part of a collective leadership. That’s logical, given our human preference for working in groups.
We will see teams accepting (and expecting) more responsibility and control over their work. They will be more innovative and ready to embrace new ideas and contend with change. Each member will form part of the leadership group when their particular skills or knowledge are in demand.
It’s a shift from manager-as-leader style thinking to a manager-within-the-team approach, which will need to be incorporated into leadership training programs.
- Becoming aware of bias
Whether we like it or not, we all have some form of bias. The trend for 2018 will be to raise the topic and help individuals become aware of their biases and the effect they have on performance. When we realise our biases we can begin to deal with them, and control their impact on our behaviour and assumptions. Leadership training will focus on giving individuals the skills to recognise and manage conscious or unconscious bias, its effect on team communication and its restriction of innovation and engagement.
- Gender and leadership
Organisations have finally recognised that when they have women in management and leadership roles, they have better financial performance. There’s a dollar value return on their investment, making it worthwhile for them to investigate further. In 2017 there was a lot of attention given to understanding the role of women in leadership, and acknowledging their special brand of skill and perception.
2018 will see the trend continue. Organisations will begin building systems to encourage the emergence of female leaders, including systems and training to help women recognise their own leadership merit.
- Building a workplace culture for innovation
Innovation is what gives an organisation its competitive edge. 2018 will see organisations making changes to the way they look, work and behave, all in the name of encouraging innovation.
Angus Kidman on Lifehacker says that “35% of people have any kind of creative moment in the morning. The minute you get to work it plummets to 8 per cent, and it never comes up very much. Letting people work from home more, you get the equivalent of an extra day a week.”
We’ve looked on as places like Facebook and Google have built offices and developed workplace policies that look very different to our own. We will see traditional workplaces finally understanding the value of this approach.
While you might not find a slide in the office any time soon, you will see organisations loosening up about working hours, working from home and even the layout of the floorplan.
- Engagement in training
Figures show that employee engagement is low across the board, including with organisations training and development. This year we will see more use of technology and games as a learning and development tool. Gamification will be on the rise with recent reports quoting figures like these:
- Over 70 percent of employees felt engagement software would help them perform better at work.
- Over 25 percent said it would help them stay motivated.
- 54 percent of respondents indicated that they would be more likely or much more likely to perform a task if it had game elements.
By using technology and adding game elements to training or even within the job itself, it encourages the release of dopamine, the happy chemical of the brain. When we feel happy, we work better and we’re prepared to take a few risks and try new things.
- Leadership development through study of neuroscience
This year we will see an increasing number of formal courses of study on leadership neuroscience becoming available. There will be more conferences to build our understanding of how our brains work and how they affect our leadership style and abilities. It is the basis of all our programs and workshops at LeadershipHQ.
So there you have it. Do you agree with me or have you spotted other neuroscience and leadership trends that we should talk about? Please share your opinion in the comments below. I’d love to know your thoughts. Check out our amazing Online Leadership Toolkit and Academy with a Module on the Neuroscience of Leadership at https://laa.leadershiphq.com.au/
I remember when I was little driving from Brisbane to Cairns with my family. I was sitting in the back being my inpatient self (this hasn’t changed) and saying to my parents literally every 5 minutes – “Are we there yet?”
This is an interesting memory for me when I started my career as I literally was saying in my head the same thing – “Am I a Leader yet?” Meaning I wanted to climb the ladder to get the title without appreciating the journey. I wanted to fast track my leadership and development thinking it would be the key to my success as a leader.
Little did I know Leadership is a journey? I know live and breath this space and I am still not there yet. Nor do I want to be. So I picked up some books, read some articles, watched some videos, spoke with mentors and started the journey. Thing is, I started and I knew I wanted so much more. I wanted to learn more about Leadership, who I am as a leader and my abilities, strengths and talents as a Leader. Today it is the choices I have made as a leader that are the keys.
Let me ask you this do you think we are overloaded with Great Leadership? I think not. We need more leaders. Leadership isn’t about Role or Title. It’s an Attitude, Behaviour and Mindset. Even if you have a leadership position doesn’t mean you are a leader? We want to come to work everyday and work with Great Leaders? Don’t we?
Therefore we do we start. It starts with you. It starts with you making an intentional choice today to learn leadership and take charge of your growth and awareness. Yes leadership is a journey.
However, I want to show you how you can start the journey with our Free Fast Track Webinars and Fast Track One Day Workshops in May and June to get you started. Leadership is about Momentum. By joining these events and webinars, you will be track to greatness as a leader.
I will be sharing my Top 7 Techniques to Leadership Success which all you need is 7 Minutes each day to practice and put into action to fast track your leadership journey. It starts here and now. This will make a difference to your career, business and leadership.
Join us today and you will be more confident, skilled and driven to be that Great Leader. It is within YOU.
Fear, Vulnerability and how opening up to your authentic self can make you a better leader.
You might think that fear, vulnerability and confidence don’t belong in the same sentence but according to Brene Brown, they actually do.
Many of us have been raised to think of vulnerability as a weakness. It’s something to cover up – your weak point – and you need to protect it from view at all costs, or you’ll be hurt. Brown takes the opposite point of view, saying that vulnerability is power.
“Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It’s the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for: joy, creativity, faith, love, spirituality,” she says. “And the whole thing is, there is no innovation and creativity without failure.”
In an interview for Forbes magazine she goes on to say, “When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity.” In her opinion, entrepreneurship is all about vulnerability.
In fact, by allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you will build your confidence and learn to trust yourself and your judgement.
Possibly one of the most difficult parts of being a leader is learning to allow yourself to be vulnerable and learning how to model that for your team. I don’t blame anyone for being afraid when they let their guard down. Not everyone is going to understand what you are doing, or why, and not everyone will be willing to follow your example.
As leader, you need to create an environment in which it is safe for your team members to expose their vulnerabilities.
Luckily the brain can be your best ally in this situation.
The hippocampus is the part of your brain which involves memory and learning. It helps us put situations into context, based on our experiences, so we know how to react and when it’s ok to express our vulnerability. It’s the hippocampus which will help you overcome fear by drawing on the memory of similar circumstances in which you managed yourself well.
What that means for leaders is that you may need to build opportunities for success into the process of exploring vulnerability. It means that you may need to help your team members notice what is happening to them during those moments of vulnerability. The more mindful they are during those moments, the more information is stored in the hippocampus, to be drawn on later, as they need it.
A trait which seems to be a weakness is actually a strength.
A team which is strong enough to show vulnerability is a team which is confident enough to be creative, loyal, adaptable and focused. It’s a team in which each member has learnt to trust themselves in the face of risk, and to learn from every experience.
If you would like some help boosting your team effectiveness through their understanding of the power of vulnerability, give us a call to see how we can help.
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.
If you are a new leader in the present-day world, you may find it natural to adopt a new identity that will help you hide your vulnerability and uncertainty. Everyone has the image of the perfect leader in their head and it is not uncommon for someone to choose to imitate that model in the belief that it will help them deal better with their team. However, research in the area of leadership so far proves that hiding your real self – hiding behind a ‘mask’ – only makes it much harder for a leader to achieve their set goals.
One of the problems emerging as a result of using a ‘mask’ when leading your team is strongly related to the trust of your colleagues. When you are yourself, you behave in a certain natural way – you behave authentically. The problem is that even if your new team members haven’t known you before, they will feel that something is not right, even on subconscious level. Team members will mistrust you without really knowing why.
Although in the beginning you may consider having a ‘mask’ on and playing a role an easy thing to do, many cases involving leaders not being themselves show that over time it becomes harder and harder to maintain this superficial self. This may be a result of the efforts required to maintain what is almost a double identity, or you may start to feel you are ‘betraying’ your real self.
Most leaders who have placed themselves in this position find that once they have cast away the mask and started being themselves, it is easier to communicate with their colleagues and team members, and to achieve the various goals set for the team.
Being yourself, showing who you are and what you want to achieve, produces far better results in a far easier way. It allows you to use the neural pathways which were already developed, so that your actions are instinctive and not premeditated.
It is natural to be anxious about your new leadership position and to think yourself not fit to cope with it. However, the way to actually make things work and start achieving results is not by hiding behind masks and creating new identities, but by being yourself.
Use your own skills and talents and trust in your own judgements. Someone has seen your leadership potential even if you can’t see it yet.
Do you need help getting to the core of your leadership potential? Need some help removing the mask? Get in touch! We would love to help you.
One of the hottest catchphrases these days is the term, “fake it until you make it.” Despite its popularity, some people believe the saying is all about being an imposter. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Faking it until you make it,” is not about trying to bluff your way through a situation for which you are not prepared. There is a scientific, biological basis showing “faking it” can help give you the confidence that you need to keep pushing forward and achieve your goals.
The Importance of Neurotransmitters in Affecting Mood and Resolve
In the brain, serotonin and other hormones act as neurotransmitters of the electrical impulses that are behind our thoughts and feelings. Our moods and our will to act are influenced by how high the levels of these various neurotransmitters happen to be at the time
While it seems unreal that something so small can have such a big impact on our lives, the truth is that much of our behaviour, including how we react and are perceived by others in social situations, is influenced by these same chemicals. Even something as seemingly unrelated as our sleep, our appetites or even the level of physical attraction and arousal that we feel towards other is directly influenced by these compounds.
Scientific research has shown that we can actually influence the number of hormones that are produced and released into our bloodstream simply by altering and changing the position of our bodies!
Therefore “faking it,” until you feel it is useful. If you feel depressed, upset, or even afraid, the first step to changing how you feel is to change the posture of your body. Even the simple act of smiling can be enough to turn your feelings around and help you to feel happier than you did just moments before.
How Confidence Greases the Wheels of Success
So, what does changing your posture and putting a smile on your face have to do with your ability to achieve your goals? Absolutely everything!
Of all the character traits that exceptional leaders share, one of the most important is confidence. Those who can overcome obstacles and achieve peak performance for themselves and their organisations are known for being confident and upbeat. It is what fuels their resolve and determination.
Exceptional leaders can keep going and achieve their goals despite the odds stacked against them because they have such a high level of self-belief. They know that the only thing that can stop them from achieving their goals is their own self-doubt.
While a great leader may seem to overflow with confidence, the truth is that few of us are born that way. Therefore I truly embrace the concept of “faking it,” until you “become” it – it works! If you want to succeed you must first believe that you can and will succeed!
If you are feeling nervous, the simple act of standing up, and pretending to feel more confident is actually a great way to tap into the power of your subconscious mind. You’ll release the serotonin and other hormones that will stimulate positive feelings and give you the confidence that you lack!
As you practice using your face and posture to help you feel more relaxed and in control, you will begin to feel more upbeat and positive. You will then start to project a higher level of confidence and sureness that others will mirror back to you as you interact with them. This creates what is known as a positive feedback loop; a perpetual positive energy engine that continues to increase production of the very neurotransmitters that are behind the feelings of positive self-worth and well-being!
Are you ready to be an awesome leader? Are you prepared to reach a new level of excellence in your leadership? It’s okay if you feel nervous as you face your goal. Just stare down the obstacles that stand in your way – you will succeed in your quest if you believe that you can!
Fake it till you make it? Go on. Rock that leadership role!
About Sonia McDonald
Sonia McDonald, CEO and Founder of LeadershipHQ, is an Entrepreneur, Thought Leader, Dynamic Keynote Speaker, Leadership Coach and Author of Leadership Attitude (now on BOOKTOPIA!). She was recently named in the Top 250 Influential Women Leaders across the Globe. Sonia is one of Australia’s Leading Executive Coaches. She has over 25 years’ human resource management, leadership and organisational development experience. She has held senior leadership roles in organisational development, learning and development, human resources and talent management fields across the globe. She is also an inspirational and dynamic leadership and neuroscience keynote speaker.
Connect with Sonia at:
Phone: 1300 917 665