We know from research that employees leave managers before they leave organizations. That is to say, they likely leave unprepared managers. By comparison, managers with comprehensive training are more able to create an engaging work environment where attrition slows and production increases.
How companies promoting workplace relationship benefit from happier employees
Trust plays a part in every conversation you have throughout the day. While conversing with someone, your conscious mind might not be thinking whether you trust them or their provided information. Your subconscious mind, however, is constantly analyzing their interactions with yourself and others as well as recalling past experiences and similar interactions in order to gauge their trustworthiness. Therefore, all conversations either build trust or break it down.
Over the years, workplace collaboration has become increasingly popular and important among employees. A Gartner, Inc. Survey shows that nearly 80% of workers used collaboration tools for work in 2021, which was a 44% increase since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.
With increased collaboration within organizations, there is a stronger need to connect with others to build meaningful relationships and therefore trust.
Regulating and understanding TRUST
Creating trust in an organization can be as simple as TRUST:
When we use this model as a roadmap, we can be aware of our mindset, intentions and impact. This puts us in our prefrontal cortex where we’re best suited to make the decisions and connections that move our companies forward.
With remote or hybrid work, workplace relationships are more important—and difficult to achieve—than ever
Traditionally, full-time workers often spend more of their waking hours alongside co-workers than they do with their spouses and families. In today’s environment with many employees still working remotely either full time or part time due to the pandemic, relationships play a significant role in interactions.
When you are staring at a computer screen all day, it’s easy to forget that on the other end of your emails and chat messages is another human being. Without much of a relationship, it can be hard to assess tone and intentions over these forms of communication. This opens the door for misunderstandings, negative encounters, and ill feelings toward co-workers. Ultimately, it can lessen trust between people.
So, what are some actions you can take to prioritize remote work relationships? Here are a few of our suggestions:
- Discuss issues over a call. You can really benefit from hearing each other’s voices and tone of voice.
- Take it a step further and turn on your cameras during meetings to see expressions and get that face to face value.
- Schedule non-work related meetings where you can get to know each other better. Try and find an online trivia game or other icebreakers that you and your team can work together on.
Workplace relationships allow employees to flourish
Whether working remotely or in-person, employees who invest in nourishing their relationships with team members feel more fulfilled and accomplish more. A Connected Commons study, where interviews were conducted with 160 leaders (80 men and 80 women) across 20 organizations, showed that workplace relationships proved useful with different aspects of: producing innovative solutions, executing work efficiently, and thriving at work.
They found that people who create energy, purpose, and trust within their workplace networks succeed over time at a stunningly high rate. Furthermore, these good relationships brought project opportunities, talented people who sought to work with them, and were able to generate greater innovation and creativity overall. With this information in mind, it is hard to underestimate the power of relationships.
Who can you build a stronger relationship with in your organization?
Stay tuned for the next in our Organizational Trust series, where we’ll dive deep into Understanding. For more information and to schedule time with one of our experts, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trust is the foundation for engaging with others. When you build trust, you can truly inspire and empower others. Leaders build trust one conversation at a time. When there is trust in relationships, everything goes smoother and faster with candid and clear communication that gets better results.
We know this to be true in our own lives, but data backs it up. Gallup research shows that employees who trust their employers experience 74% less stress and 40% less burnout. One third of employees shared they’d stay longer with an organization if leaders kept their promises; furthermore, companies with high trust levels outperform companies with low trust levels by a resounding 186%.
Where does trust live in an organization?
Have you ever said to a colleague or employee, “Just trust me!” and felt that was sufficient for gaining trust? Of course not. Trust in an organization lives and breathes through the individuals that make up that organization.
We can create trust, but we have to understand first where it lives with us, as individuals.
Harnessing conversation neurochemistry
Understanding and utilizing the neurochemistry of conversations enables us to achieve profound transformational results and revolutionizes the way we interact as human beings—whether we’re working with individuals, teams, or entire organizations.
Humans are wired to connect; but we’re also programmed to distrust first. Distrust lives in the most primitive regions of our brains, which are hardwired to protect us.
- Enables connection all internal systems and others
- When we are in sync with our heart brain, we move towards each other as friends; when we don’t sync we move away and feel others are foe
- Stores history of all emotional experiences
- The limbic brain says, “Where do I fit in?”
- Reads social context, looks for inclusion and exclusion
- Move towards or away from each other
- Hardwired for language, storing info, basic thinking, reasoning and cognitive skills
- Holds our internal “scripts,” including working memory and stored memory
- Newer researcher says right brain is change brain and left brain is steady-state brain
- Link between digestion, mood and health and the way we think
- Stress correlated to lack of biodiversity in gut flora
- Keep track of social cues and allows us to alter behavior accordingly
Prefrontal Cortex – newest part of the brain
- Higher level coordination of the whole brain
- Envision future and create scenarios, step into shoes of others – empathy, mirror neurons, make judgments, live in trust and have integrity
- Advanced capabilities – judging, dreaming, possibility
Awareness shapes our environment for trust
We need to be more intentional in shaping the environment for trust—this opens up the prefrontal cortex, where we can best make choices without an automatic response.
Think about our primitive brain states as an uphill climb—everything is primed for survival and is an uphill battle for us to communicate.
Think about our prefrontal cortex as strolling on a country lane—moving forward is possible in conversation and there is a noticeable flow.
Awareness of what we’re saying as we’re having conversations and building trust connects us with the most advanced parts of the newest brain, which can even be thought of as the “executive brain.”
Knowing the brain research and neuroscience principles that underlie the words and actions that build (or erode) trust is the key to increasing a leader’s self-awareness and the ability to engage and inspire others more naturally and logically.
Trust is a pivotal element in the future of remote work
74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard. This opinion is also shared by 76% of entrepreneurs—and tech organizations specifically will be leading the charge on this new normal.
To create meaningful work across teams in-office, you need trust; but trust in an organization is more important than ever with remote work. Flexibility in work schedules and work locations are key to retaining talent—but make communication even more important.
Regulating and understanding TRUST
Creating trust in an organization can be as simple as TRUST:
When we use this model as a roadmap, we can be aware of our mindset, intentions and impact. As we know, this puts us in our prefrontal cortex where we’re best suited to make the decisions and connections that move our companies forward.
Stay tuned for the next in our Organizational Trust series, where we’ll dive deep into Transparency.
Does your organization need a trust assessment?
Contact us to learn more.
Is one of your goals this year to become a more impactful leader? Awareness is the gateway to more effective, conscious leadership. In fact it’s the first step in ORCA’s Four A’s of Conscious Leadership.
Yet many of our clients ask, “Where do I begin?”
We’ve put together a list of 10 activities to do to increase your self-awareness every day. Remember, awareness is a continual process of learning. Our team at ORCA uses these techniques to further grow and develop.
1. Meditate and practice mindfulness.
One company’s study showed consistent employee meditation increased productivity by 120%. With meditation rising to the same level of popularity as yoga in the U.S. alone, it’s easy to find resources to help with this critical tool for self-awareness and success.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes, close your eyes and notice what comes up.
- Headspace and Calm are great tools to use for guided meditations.
- These mindfulness tips may seem easy enough, but in practice self-awareness is a process of constant learning. Therefore, ORCA and WithPause have put together a detailed guidebook that you can use throughout your day for self-inquiry: 7 Daily Micro-Practices to Shift Your Experience.
2. Learn something new.
From a physiological perspective, learning something new is good for you. When you learn something new, you are exercising your brain—helping to improve cognitive functions such as concentration, attention to detail, memory recall and problem solving.
- Find an interest that you enjoy, ideally something that brings you joy and gets you out of your comfort zone. Through trying something new, you’ll gain greater self-awareness and confidence.
3. Use self-assessment instruments.
Understanding behavioral style and preferences to environmental factors impact how you lead and work as a team.
- These can include assessments such as DISC and EQ to learn more about yourself and increase your awareness. Get your free DISC Engagement Report here.
- You can also use CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) to dive deeper into what are your strengths and how to capitalize on them. Contact us to learn more.
Journaling is one of the most accessible tools available to increase your self-awareness—especially as patterns in thought can appear when you journal over a span of time. All you need is a pen and paper (or blank document on your laptop).
- Consistency is key here. Notice what thoughts you have when you first wake up and write them down. Use the prompts below to guide your journal entries.
5. Create a personal values statement.
6. Challenge your fixed mindset.
A growth mindset thrives on challenge, unlike a fixed mindset, which assumes we can’t change in a meaningful way.
- Example: Instead of “I need to control.” (a fixed quality that feels unchangeable) try “I am learning how to let go be a better listener and allow others to take the lead.” (this creates a path forward)
- Kristin Neff’s 5-minute Self Compassion Break is a great tool to guide you forward when you feel stuck in your fixed mindset.
7. Identify the sensations in your body in connection with your emotion.
Recognizing how our mind and body react to situations and emotions—whether in tandem or separately—can illuminate areas we want to alleviate tension.
- Notice what situations or stimuli trigger you and cause you to have certain reactions or feelings. Example: What is happening in your body when you feel angry?
- Set a reminder on your phone that says “Name 3 emotions you are experiencing right now.” Set it to repeat at a specific time every day.
8. Examine and poke holes in your own level of thinking.
As leaders, we know that making assumptions isn’t the best practice. Your own thinking is no different.
- Play your own devil’s advocate.
- Be open to asking those around you what I am missing in my thinking about this problem.
9. Know your strengths and weaknesses/growth edge.
SWOT analysis may be second nature for your business, but knowing your own strengths, weaknesses, and growth edge present an opportunity for greater self-awareness and direction.
- In what areas would you like to improve? What things come naturally and easily to you? What is something you would like to do, but are afraid to try?
10. Pay attention to your intuition.
Paying attention to your intuition—and trusting where it leads—can bring self-recognition and information you can then act on.
- Where do you feel naturally inclined to go? Be curious and listen beyond what your rational mind might be telling you.
This time of year can fly by with more events than usual; it’s normal to feel the pressure to celebrate and soak in every last moment as the year comes to a close. It’s also a time for reflection and looking to the future with intentionality. It’s important to look back so we can see how we would like to move forward. As I reflect back on my Conscious Leadership journey this year, I encourage you to do the same.
Vulnerability is an essential part of the Conscious Leadership Journey
This year, I stepped in front of the camera and shared more of myself with you. I’ll tell you, making my first video was both a weird and anxious experience. It felt like I was talking to myself. I had a thought of “are you staring at a screen or really talking to people?” It felt vulnerable and challenging, pushing me even further as a leader and I shared more of my own journey than ever before. Over time I was able to become a little more comfortable making videos.
I believe what we have to say is important, especially in these times when most of us are being challenged by everything. The world is shifting and we are entering a new era of work. My mission and our mission at ORCA is to help people become more conscious and take ownership of things that are going to help them be more effective in navigating change. This mission is more important than any fear I have of being in front of the camera.
I didn’t have any expectations about what might happen, but I gained so much from the experience. New connections, deeper connections with my network and more confidence in myself. I felt really vulnerable sharing my journey publicly and ultimately had to trust that my sharing could help someone. In the end, it resonated with some, and I had people reach out to me to thank me for sharing and some even shared how it helped them in their own journey.
The challenge of leading a company through uncertainty
In the beginning of the year, lots of projects were still on hold as clients didn’t know what to expect in the coming months. As the year progressed, things started picking up and there was more predictability around how we would move forward. Everything wasn’t completely worked out, but we had a general direction. In 2020 we really had to get comfortable moving everything to the virtual space, and this year we were able to go back to having some in-person meetings.
The biggest challenge we faced was the uncertainty that comes with growing and sustaining a business. Figuring out how to keep generating revenue, maintaining profitability, controlling costs and overhead, and figuring out cash flow.
Personally, I was challenged to work on my business versus in my business and really embody the role of CEO. (You might remember my balcony and the dance floor video.) It was important to look at how to scale a business beyond just me and the relationships. I needed to personally spend more time on the balcony.
Defining what success means at ORCA
It’s important to know your “why.” It’s crucial to how you measure your success as a leader. When I think about ORCA’s success, I ask myself two key questions:
- Have we assisted our customers in having a transformational experience?
- Have the individuals and teams with whom we work taken away something that makes them and those around them better?
This year I really tried to prioritize sharing our wins. I adopted a habit of doing this every week in what I called “our wins and priorities.” We are still a work in progress, but are continuing to get clear on where we can add the most value and focusing on developing our niche. Currently we are transitioning to a more holistic approach and integrating the different assets we have to bring greater value while focusing on where we have the most experience, which is working with technology organizations.
Looking to the future
As another year comes to a close, I’m going to continue to use connection as my roadmap. My goal is to continue to establish and build long-term sustainable relationships with our clients and partners. It’s not about selling a product or a new lifestyle. It’s about raising awareness and encouraging people to continue to grow and transform and for you to do the same for your people; in this way, we propel to new levels of success.
We are working on integrated offerings that can be customized to different clients based on their needs. The Four A’s of Conscious Leadership will continue to be a focus, and we’re excited to dive deeper into that framework with you in 2022.
We are so grateful for our clients, our partners, and our community at large. I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Holiday and a wonderful end to 2021, and we look forward to connecting with you next year.
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I’ve always sought to learn and grow on my Conscious Leadership journey, whether it be from mentors, peers, my job, or on my own. Reading growth-oriented books is something that has helped me tremendously, and today I’m excited to share some of my favorite Conscious Leadership books with you.
I met with Marvin during my time working at Microsoft. I really liked the work and research he did on empowering people in the workforce. He empowered people by moving responsibility to where the job is at, meaning as a leader he believed it was crucial to enable people to solve their own problems. He inspired the idea that everyone can create their own desirable future.
This book is great for someone who is interested in organization change, or looking to feel more empowered in their workplace.
Kevin Cashman takes a holistic approach to leadership: grow the whole person to grow the whole leader. His book offers stories, exercises, and practices to help readers develop mastery in eight areas. This is the book that started to help me think about the inner and outer game, although I didn’t call it that at the time.
This book is for anyone who wants to cultivate more awareness, and grow on their Conscious Leadership journey.
In his book, Otto Scharmer integrates heart-centered leadership and focuses on where leadership comes from instead of how someone does leadership. This had the biggest influence on my capstone project: The Being of Leadership.
He talks about full presence listening and how the power of listening is both being able to connect to yourself and others. He describes three presences: co-sensing, co-presenting, co-creating that coming together to create a full experience.
I recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for something comprehensive and wants to learn about an interesting model.
My first copy of this book was given to me in 1983. I re-read it in 1985 when I lost my dad and my job. This book is all about believing in yourself and not getting in your own way. I remember when I had no job, and I said I have no doubts and that I am going to be successful and won’t worry about money. A leader from Microsoft was supposed to meet with seven of us. No one else could make it, so I met with him one on one. After that meeting, he offered me a job, and I moved to the U.S.
I’ve learned that when you get out of your own way, really ridiculous and crazy things can happen for you. If you’re wondering what the three magic words are, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.
I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something really impactful. This is a book that I often buy copies of to gift to people.
In this book, Ron Heifetz gives a structure and framework for dealing with complexity and understanding the whole organizational system and your relationship with that system. This is where “the balcony and the dance floor” came from.
“Knowing how the environment is pulling your strings and playing you is critical to making responsive rather than reactive moves.” – Ron Heifetz
He talks about observation, interpretation, and intervention. How do you do these things in that system? You have more control of the complexity itself when you understand that it’s the relationship to the complexity that matters rather than the complexity itself.
“Your silence creates a vacuum for others to fill. The key is to stay present and keep listening. The silence of holding steady is different from the silence of holding back.” – Ron Heifetz
It can be difficult when change requires you to challenge people’s familiar reality. Many will feel threatened as you push through major changes, but as a leader you will have to find a way to make it work.
I would recommend this book to someone who is going through a transition, or who is looking to make big changes in their life. This book will have a huge impact on how you see and understand your environment.
There are so many other great resources out there, but these are the top books that have had the greatest impact on me and my journey. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions, or want to share what you’ve learned from these books. You can get in touch by going to ORCA’s Contact page or reaching out to me on LinkedIn.
What you need to know as a leader, and how you can accelerate your growth.
We are passionate about supporting leaders at ORCA. It is our mission to raise the consciousness of the leaders we work with in order to create more productive and effective organizations. We measure our success by the impact we have on the leaders we work with. The following videos discuss my own journey to conscious leadership after leaving Microsoft, the trends we are seeing for the future of leadership, and the struggles that leaders go through in their careers.
Paul's Journey to Conscious Leadership
Before we dive into the work we do, I want to share with you some of my leadership story. My journey started when I left Microsoft. I felt I was no longer giving or getting my best and decided it was time to figure out what was next.
It was challenging to leave. When you work at an organization for a long time, you have structure. After I left, I felt lost. I was expecting people to reach out, to feel needed, and that’s not what happened. I had to go through a grieving process during this time.
What I learned is that you can’t have new beginnings until you have an ending. It’s important to celebrate this ending, and it’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to feel lost. Remember that you are not alone in this journey. If you can accept that the way you’re feeling is normal, you give yourself space to grow.
That’s why I developed our 4 A’s of Conscious Leadership Framework, to help you navigate through transitions and shift your mindset. This is more important than ever as the future of leadership continues to shift.
The Future of Leadership
As a leader, it’s important to understand what’s going on in the workforce.
Employee’s expectations of their leaders are shifting, and the changes we saw during COVID only accelerated this shift. Younger workers are moving around to opportunities that are the best fit for them and want to find organizations that care about them and their growth. With the increase of remote work, people are now having to bring their whole selves to the workplace. We are in our houses and juggling it all. Employees want their managers and leaders to understand this.
As a leader, it’s important to think about these changes, and how you are leading. At ORCA we talk about a leader’s inner game and outer game. The inner game is composed of the thoughts and feelings you’re having, the stories you tell yourself that impact the way you lead. Your outer game is how this all manifests in the workplace and how you are executing on your leadership competencies. We’ve developed a holistic approach to Conscious Leadership, because we understand that it’s important for leaders to know about their inner game and outer game.
Leadership is a Journey
We love to help leaders scale to the next level but to do so we must understand and acknowledge that all leaders struggle. Presidents, CEO’s, COO’s, and Senior leaders at large organizations, like Microsoft, all go through difficult periods where they need support.
It’s the leaders who are most aware and who are willing to ask for help who get through the struggles more quickly.
Leadership is a journey. Asking for help is a great way to accelerate your own leadership journey, and is an important part of the process. Coaching is a great way to scale up your leadership and have support along the way.
We’d love to support you on your leadership journey.