Creating a High-Trust Culture for High Performance

 

How to Increase Trust

 

Why is culture so difficult to change?

Why are so many employees disengaged?

What should a leader do when she arrives at a company that is struggling?

 

The founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies recently wrote a book, Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies to answer these and other questions. Paul J. Zak, PhD, is also a professor at Claremont Graduate University. He recently answered some of my questions about his extensive research into trust. His book is fascinating and contributes to the body of work on trust and organizational culture.

 

Survey of 200,000 employees: 71% of companies have mediocre to poor cultures.

 

Spot the Signs of a Low-Trust Culture

In one part of the book, you tell a story of walking into an office full of cobwebs, old furniture, and a struggling culture. What are some of the signs of a low-trust culture?

Distrust drains employees’ energy, so people move slow, think slow, and lack a passion for their jobs.  Organizations with low trust also have lower profits, so offices often look out-of-date, even while new employees show up as turnover tends to be high.  We have also shown that people take more sick days when they work at low-trust companies, so one sees empty desks.  All these factors are signs of a low-trust syndrome and a downward cycle of productivity, innovation, and profits.

 

“High-trust companies invest in employee health and productivity.” –Paul J. Zak

 

Why Healthy Cultures are Based on Trust

trust factorWhy is a healthy culture based on trust so vitally important to its success?

Companies are, first and foremost, people. As social creatures, we naturally form teams to accomplish goals together.  Extensive research shows that teams are more effective when they have a clear objective and when team members are trustworthy. Trust reduces the frictions that can arise in teams so getting things done takes less effort and as a result more and better work is done.  By measuring brain activity while people work, we’ve shown that people are more relaxed when they trust their colleagues. They innovate more and shed the stress from work faster than those in low-trust companies.  Creating a culture of trust provides powerful leverage on performance because it harnesses what our brains are designed to do: cooperate with others in teams.  And the neuroscience I’ve done shows how to create a culture of trust in a system so it has the maximum effect on brain and behavior.

 

Workers in high trust organizations are paid an average of $6,450 more.

 

I love the biological explanation of the Golden Rule. Explain the connection between oxytocin and trust.

Why Leaders Must Prioritize Health and Wellness

Prioritize Your Health

Leaders are especially vulnerable to stress. Often leaders put others first and sacrifice their own wellbeing in the process. That’s not a recipe for long-term success and often results in failure.

Danielle Harlan, PhD is the Founder & CEO of the Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential. She completed her doctorate at Stanford University and has taught courses at both Stanford Graduate School of Business and U.C. Berkeley Extension’s Corporate and Professional Development program.

After reading her book, The New Alpha: Join the Rising Movement of Influencers and Changemakers Who Are Redefining Leadership, I asked her about her research and experience in leadership health and fitness.

 

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” –Antoine De Saint Exupery

 

Your Health and Your Leadership

When did you realize that prioritizing health was linked to leadership?

Leadership is fundamentally about being able to set a vision and persist over the long run as you lead yourself and others to take on big challenges and work toward the finish line, so it seems like making health a priority would be a no-brainer, right? I mean, it’s pretty obvious that taking care of ourselves affects our energy levels and stamina in the long run.

However, in my experience, this is the one aspect of personal excellence that leaders are most likely to struggle with—and this is true across industries, types of organizations, and roles. As the work piles up, self-care often takes a back seat to other more “pressing” priorities, which almost never leads to good outcomes in the long run.

 

“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” -Booker T. Washington

 

More often than not, leaders who don’t prioritize their health either become unbearable to work with because they they’re dehydrated, or tired, or stressed, or “hangry”—or they start to get sick. I’ve worked with people who’ve developed diabetes, pre-diabetes, and even heart disease because they’ve put work ahead of their health. I’ve also known people who’ve gained or lost too much weight because of work and even someone who eventually had an aneurism. I’m not saying that there weren’t other factors that played a role in some of these cases, but all of these examples are of people who put work ahead of self-care, and I think they (and their teams and organizations) suffered for it.

After seeing this pattern of behavior and outcomes over and over again, it became clear to me that managing your health is a key component of being an effective human being and a successful leader.

Copyright Kate Haley Photography Copyright Kate Haley Photography

 

 

“Tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today.” –Malcolm X

 

The Dangers of Putting Work Ahead of Self

Why do you think so many people miss this important link (leadership / wellness) to their detriment?

I think putting work ahead of self-care actually comes from a good place—a desire to put forth our best effort and do as much good as possible, and people can be very effective in the short run by working this way (I’ve definitely had moments, for example, where I’ve sacrificed sleep in order to meet a big deadline).

The problem arises when we consistently put “achievement” ahead of our health and wellness, which simply isn’t sustainable in the long run—and I think The New Alpha gives people permission to re-prioritize their health and wellness, even if it means perhaps being slightly less effective on a few short-term tasks.

 

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” –Winston Churchill

 

4 Steps to Improve Your Health Today

24 Quotes to Help You Relax When You’re Stressed

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

It seems that our pace gets faster each year, the stresses pile on, and the work never ends. Deadlines loom. We want to hit our goals.

Relax.

Here are some quotes to help you relax. As you read them, breathe. Really breathe slowly and just let whatever is bothering you go for a few minutes.

 

“I’ve decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” –Voltaire

 

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” –Chinese Proverb

 

“It is nice finding that place where you can just go and relax.” –Moises Arias

 

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” –William Burroughs

 

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” –Etty Hillesum

 

“Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.” –Eckhart Tolle

 

“How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.” –Spanish Proverb

 

“Give your stress wings and let if fly away.” –Terri Guillemets

 

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” –Mohandas Gandhi

 

“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together.” –Chris Bradford

 

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.” –Mark Black

 

“You don’t always need a plan.  Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens.” –Mandy Hale

 

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…Including you.” –Anne Lamott

7 Decisions You Can Make Today to Be More Successful

This is a guest post by Janet Miller. Janet is a mom of four, former Fortune 500 executive and executive coach. She is the cofounder of Jen Reviews and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, and Tiny Buddha.

How to Be Happier and More Successful

Og Mandino once said, “In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits. Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure. Thus, the first law I will obey, which precedeth all the others is – I will form good habits and become their slave.”

 

“Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure.” -Og Mandino

 

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit…or to break one. While the end result may not happen in the blink of an eye, these seven things we will go over today will definitely get you on your way. In the meantime, the happiness you will attain in realizing you are on your way to solidifying good practices will lead to your overall success. So, yes, you will realize a difference on the very first day, today, if you wish.

 

To most, this would seem like one of the least likely cases for long-term happiness and success, as it might leave you open to being let down. Quite the contrary. In assuming someone’s good intentions, you are allowing yourself to see things from their perspective, which in turn brings out the ability in you to be a good listener. You begin to see that their point has some valid root in something that they themselves find important, and you want to know what that is. It takes away the defensive attitude that we sometimes get when people come up with ideas that are not our own and also curbs our innate subconscious desire for self-righteousness.

Leadership Tip: Always start by believing in someone’s good intent.

 

2. Write down your goals every day.

Write down your goals every day. Studies show that writing down daily goals significantly improves the accomplishment of those goals. A good idea can also be a fleeting one, and it pays to jot every one of them down and then to arrange them in such a way that you can work from them towards a future arrival point, whether long-term or short-term. It can create and maintain vision, in which you can dream big, decide where you want to eventually be, and know the steps it will take to get there. It solidifies measurability, and creates something you can look back on as you begin to reach the finish line you have created.

“People with written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.” – Brian Tracy

 

3. Realize that setbacks can ultimately lead to success.

While intelligence is most often a fixed-in-place factor in our lives, resilience is not. It allows us to cope with and eventually overcome adversity, which is something that can be acted on and improved. As we strengthen our resilience, we are able to recover faster from setbacks, and that makes us a little more open to taking chances that might grant us the possibility of even more success. When failure happens, there are a couple ways to deal with it, and they make a world of difference. One way is to place blame on someone or something else or to feel so badly about it that you learn nothing. This gives no room for moving forward. On the other hand, acknowledgement makes way for setting emotion aside and analyzing the failure in such a way as to move on from it and, eventually, overcome it.

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” –Truman Capote

 

All kinds of negativity can come from comparing yourself to others. Whether you are looking at success, body image, accomplishments, financial gain or social status, all of this can ultimately result in jealousy and feelings of inferiority. It can even lead to anxiety and depression if allowed to be a constant in life. In no way does it help you achieve a single goal that you have placed for yourself and can actually cause you to stop making progress on your own goals. Instead, focus your energy – both physical and mental – on being the absolute best that you yourself can be.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt

 

5. Avoid toxic people.

There are studies that have proven that stress can leave a negative impact on the brain that lasts and lasts. Even short-term exposure can leave lasting impressions on the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and memory. Long-term exposure can destroy neurons completely, which is irreversible. To think that stress is not an enemy of happiness and success is to completely ignore the reality of this situation. Being able to manage one’s emotion and reaction to outside stressors has a direct relevance in our lives, and to avoid as much of that as possible from those stressors is of the utmost importance.

Study: Stress has a negative impact on the brain.

The Power of Aloneness: Quotes on Solitude

The Power of Solitude

 

How often do you find yourself alone?

Do you regularly make time to get away by yourself?

As your life gets busier, how often do you just spend time with you?

 

Most of us don’t think we have the time for this. We rush to work. We rush to the store, to pick up the kids, to the gym, running errands like a hamster on a wheel.

Want to try an experiment? I love to watch this event, which plays out in every restaurant I have seen. A couple is eating dinner. One person will get up. See how long the remaining person waits before fishing out the cell phone and playing around on it. Likely, it will not be long.  It seems we are that uncomfortable with being alone, even in a crowded restaurant.

What would happen if we made alone time a priority?

Jesus did it. He would regularly remove himself from the crowds to be alone and meditate.

Thoreau did it. His book Walden is a classic, filled with the wisdom of his time alone in the woods.

But today? Take the time to be alone?

 

Studies show taking time out for you increases memory, creativity, and mood.

 

Take Time to Reflect

Leaders who take the necessary reflective time find meaning and intention in their work, increasing their effectiveness.

Studies have shown that taking alone time:

  • Increases empathy
  • Creates more accurate memories
  • Helps teenagers improve both moods and grades
  • Boosts creativity
  • Allows for deeper, strategic thinking
  • Improves your relationships