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. 


Please help me help the homeless in Australia

Please help me help the homeless in Australia

I’ve signed up for the 13th Vinnies CEO Sleepout on 21st June 2018. The funny thing I felt like I was once in this situation when I had no home upon coming back to Australia from China. 

Yet I am one of the lucky people. I will only be out in the cold for one night, unlike over 100,000 Australians who experience homelessness every night. Imagine how they must suffer.

Did you know that 17,845 Australian children under the age of 12 are homeless? These kids should be safe at home, tucked into bed and getting ready to go to school each day.

Did you know that 2,028 people over the age of 75 are homeless? How would your parents cope if they had to sleep on the streets?

Did you know that 44% of the homeless are women, many of whom are escaping from domestic violence? How bad was life at home if life on the streets looks like an improvement?

My business, LeadershipHQ, is all about empowerment so you can imagine how frustrating it is for me not to be able to do that for the homeless. I want to do my bit to end homelessness and bring people back into a warm and safe environment where they can regain their dignity and start rebuilding their lives. That’s why I am part of the 2015 Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

Our homeless people need a hand. They didn’t choose to be homeless. Sometimes it just takes one thing to go wrong and you’re out of work, out of home and out of hope.

I really need your help, now. I want to raise $5000 to help end homelessness in Australia.

I can’t help but think of those kids – about the same age as my daughter – out on the streets and exposed to who knows what dangers. And the elderly, who have enough to cope with just through aging, without having to sleep on the cold footpaths which chill their frail bodies.

I would really appreciate you showing your support by making a donation of any size. Every bit helps.

It could be you or me living in that situation. We’re the fortunate ones and I believe we have a responsibility to help those who haven’t been as lucky as we have.

Please help me raise money and donate whatever you can spare. Pop over to my fundraising page and make your donation.


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Lead With Emotional Intelligence

Lead With Emotional Intelligence

As leaders, most of us have a natural desire and tendency to push for excellence in many areas of our lives.  We have skills where we naturally excel, and, if we are smart, we focus on our strengths and really work on developing them so that we can improve our performance.  Playing to our strengths, and developing our natural abilities, can really help us to stand out and can create greater opportunities for us to lead.

Excellence is Easy to Obtain When It’s Easy to Measure Performance

Pushing for excellence, however, is often easier in areas where performance can be easily measured. We often find it tempting to focus on the output, or financial performance. This is because it’s relatively easy to see if we are reaching tangible and easily measured targets, such as sales goals.

Why Your EQ is Important and Why You Must Pursue Excellence

As a leader, however, the bottom line on the balance sheet is not all that matters. Even though it’s more difficult to measure our performance in this area, leaders also need to strive for excellence in relationships and partnerships and to focus on improving the personal and social skills that make up their emotional intelligence (EQ).

Some leaders mistakenly believe that their EQ is unimportant, and they tend to focus instead on performance areas that are easily measured. These same leaders oftentimes think that based on their job title, they are naturally the person that is in charge, and so everyone should just fall in line and obey, without question.

This sort of authoritarian approach really doesn’t work very well in today’s world.  You won’t build the relationships that you need to create a team that collaborates, cooperates and gives you their best effort.  Your team’s performance might meet the minimal requirements, but it won’t be exceptional. Together you won’t produce anything that stands out because of its excellence.

Improve Your Leadership by Improving Skills that Make Up Your Emotional Intelligence

While our basic level of general intelligence, or our ability to learn, analyse and reason, is largely determined at birth, we can improve the personal and social skills that make up our emotional intelligence.  Our EQ is made up of many skills that work together to determine how easy it is for us to manage our emotions, relate to others, and form bonds and relationships with one another.

Our EQ skills include personal ones such as our attitude and level of motivation, as well as our ability to be self-aware and responsible. Your EQ also includes “softer” people skills such as your ability to care for others and empathise, as well as your ability to communicate and influence others.

Strategies That Help You Lead With Emotional Intelligence

Often leaders have a high EQ, but still have difficulty using their emotional intelligence to its best effect. You may be very good at communicating with others, and may be highly competent in areas that should make it easy to build relationships and form partnerships with others, but still have difficulty putting your skills into practice. If this is an area that you’ve struggled with, don’t panic!

Whether or not you are a self-described “people person,” or if you’ve taken a more control-centered approach in the past, the following tips can help you to improve your EQ and use it to increase your effectiveness as a leader.

Are You Aware and In Control?

Many times, as leaders, our attention becomes so outwardly focused on others that we forget to stop and focus on ourselves.

Are you aware of your attitude and your emotions? Do you have an understanding of your personal triggers and sensitive areas? Do you practice good self-care and are you in control? Are you taking action and leading, or do you allow yourself to get caught up, reacting to your feelings about people, situations or events?

So many leaders are good at building relationships, but then they sabotage themselves and their team, and destroy any chance of a collaborative partnership by failing to be self-aware and to maintain their self-control.  As leaders, we set the tone, pace and example, for our team.  Being able to understand others begins with understanding ourselves.

Your team will model the example you provide them. If you want a positive, open, inclusive and energised team, you should lead by example. Be accountable for your actions, and attitudes! Practice and model the attitudes and behaviour that you want to see in your team.

Genuinely Care for Others and Meet Their Needs

Most of us can spot authenticity a mile away. No one likes a fake.  If you want to create bonds of trust and camaraderie, so that your team will give you their best, you need to invest the time it takes to get to know the members of your team.

Your team members are not cattle or children; they are people, with unique personalities, traits and abilities. Look for ways to celebrate each team member for who they are as individuals. Look for ways to provide the members of your team with meaningful work that spotlights their special attributes.

As you get to know your people, find out what it is that makes them “tick,” and learn their needs, and then meet them.  Don’t solely focus on what your people can do for you, but rather look at the bigger picture of how you can meet one another’s needs and the great things that you can create by cooperating with one another.

Express Your Respect and Appreciation

As you and your team work together to create something exceptional and great, don’t forget to show your respect and appreciation. Offer sincere compliments and praise for their hard work and efforts and look for ways to reward your team and offer recognition to those whose excellence truly stands out.

Need More Help With Your EQ?

Do you need some help polishing your people skills, or, would you just like to learn more about how to put your emotional intelligence to its best use? Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you develop your leadership skills so that you can change yourself, your team and the world!


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!