Connections build a united culture… (Connections Part 2)
United we stand, divided we fall … the leadership choices that you make today shape the culture you live in tomorrow.
If you want to increase the effectiveness of your team and achieve goals you thought were out of reach, it begins by creating a culture in which people not only feel safe, they feel valued.
In “Leaders Eat Last,” Simon Sinek (2014) introduced us to the Circle of Safety. Knowing that you are part of the circle of safety frees up people’s minds to focus on the team’s goals. When a leader creates a culture where you “trust that the people to the left…[and] to the right of us have our backs, the better equipped we are to face the constant threats from outside together” (p. 22). Sinek wrote that you can feel it. You can feel when you are surrounded by the circle of safety. We feel valued and cared for by our colleagues and superiors. We feel like we belong and our confidence grows along with our connections. All of the group’s energy is directed towards the greater good (p. 24).
When the circle begins to falter, we become suspicious of those around us and our brains go into survival mode. Our energy is redirected into watching for the dangers all around us instead of trusting our team (Leaders Eat Last, p. 22). When trust goes down, speed goes down and costs go up (Speed of Trust, 2006, p. 13). Trust, as Covey (2006) pointed out, is one of the most highly valued competencies of the new global economy (p. 21).
Daniel, Schwier and McCalla (2003) pointed out that “in almost every discussion of social capital, trust is treated as a central variable” (p. 6). While the development of social capital isn’t as simple as a direct cause and effect relationship with trust, Daniel et. al. noted that opportunities for positive social interactions do build trust. Over time, increased trust is an integral part of growing social capital within a community (p. 6).
In recent body language and confidence workshops and coaching sessions, Carla Gradin (2015-16) shared building connections is all about building on your know, like and trust factors. As soon as you meet someone their brain automatically starts to process their first impression of you. Keep in mind first impressions happen in 2-3 seconds, likely before you’ve actually said anything (Gradin, 2015, p. 9). She reminded that our primitive brains immediately sort people into 4 categories:
- Sexual Partner
So if you want to build positive connections with people not only does what you say matter, how you say it has more impact than you think. Gradin reinforced Sinek’s 2009 TED Talk comment
“that people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it”
In order to believe your why, people need to make a connection with you. Gradin noted that people first notice your hands. If I can’t see your hands or more specifically the palms of your hands, my primitive brain becomes quite concerned with what you are hiding and if you are a threat (p. 8). Even palms facing down tells my brain that you could be hiding a weapon and I need to be on alert. The story people’s body language tells is often more honest than what people actually say.
So how can you help build connections?
Touch, builds connection. As Sinek (2014) explained in Leaders Eat Last, it’s all about the hormones. Oxytocin in the right balance can enhance positive, trusting connections. Gradin (2015) explained that when we touch people, it has the potential to release oxytocin, “which can evoke the same feeling of connection equal to 3 hours of talk time” (p.10). In Super Better, Jane McGonigal (2015) explained “touch and gratitude are two of the most effective” (p. 17) ways to increase your social resilience. In particular, McGonigal noted that 6 seconds of holding hands or touching someone not only increased your oxytocin level but theirs as well. The more oxytocin you release the more likely you are to help and protect that person which deepens your connection (p. 18). Gradin added that when shaking someone’s hand making eye contact also enhances oxytocin release (p. 10).
Interestingly, McGonigal highlighted research by Dr. Robert Emmons & Cheryl A. Crumpler along with Sara B. Algoe, Jonathan Haidt and Shelly L. Gable when she wrote:
“gratitude is the single most important relationship-strengthening emotion because, as researchers explain, ‘it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people'” (p. 18).
It turns out that expressing your appreciation is one of the best ways to build positive connections with others (McGonigal, p. 18), which is why Gradin highlighted the significance of the handshake. When done well, it’s a socially accepted greeting that can enhance how people see your agreeableness (you appear more extroverted), your open mindedness and your emotional stability (p. 10). Wonder what a great handshake is – check out our video on the handshake.
Interested in learning specific behaviours that can increase your trust factor? Check out our next post on Covey’s Recommended Trust Building Behaviours.
- Boundaries for Leaders – Dr. Henry Cloud
- Daniel, B. K., McCalla, G., & Schwier, R. A. (2002). A Process Model for Building Social Capital in Virtual Learning Communities. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Computers in Education (Vol. December 0, p. 574). Washington, DC: IEEE Computer Society. Retrieved from http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=839212
- Daniel, B. K., Schwier, R. A., & McCalla, G. (2003). Social capital in virtual learning communities and distributed communities of practice. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 29(3), 113–139. Retrieved from http://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/viewArticle/85
- Gradin, Carla
- Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek
- Speed of Trust – Stephen M. R. Covey
- Super Better – Jane McGonigal
- Talk Like TED – Carmine Gallo
- The Power of Story in School Transformation – Shane Safir