Do your team members trust you to look after their interest? Do they feel safe within your organization? Do your teams work for you just because of their pay, or do they work for you because they believe in your vision? If your teams don’t feel safe to try new things and give you their best effort, you are losing out on a competitive advantage that can make the difference in the long term survival of your organization.
What is Leadership?
Leadership is not defined by our position or rank within an organization, true leadership is both a behavior and a responsibility. Good leadership is a choice. True leaders are those that look after the interests of others and help them feel safe within an organization while providing clear direction and vision. Leaders set the tone of an organization and create its culture. Creating a safe environment for your teams and customers should be your number one responsibility.
How do Good Leaders Create a Safe Environment?
True leaders create a safe environment when they help others. Leaders boost our self-esteem and confidence while providing fair discipline and guidance when necessary. Leaders give us opportunities to grow and excel, and the freedom to try new things without fear of reprisal. We feel that we can trust a true leader because we know they have our back, they have our best interest at heart.
When we work for a true leader, as opposed to just a manager, just an owner, just someone that gives us a regular salary, we feel invested in the results and success of the organization because we feel as though we are working for something bigger than ourselves.
The Benefits of Building Trust by Creating a Safe Environment
Sinek says “Trust and cooperation are feelings induced by the environment in which we’re working and that environment is created by the leaders.”
We know that our brains release oxytocin which helps us decide who to trust and how much to trust them. We also know that by building a safe and even playful environment, our brains release more and more of this trust hormone which brings positive results within teams. In a safe environment, we are free to be more creative and innovative. We work harder, and we cooperate with our co-workers and our leaders. We are naturally inspired to pool our talents and give our leaders and our organization our best ideas. This can only happen in a corporate culture where everyone is valued as an individual rather than just a means to an end.
Organizations, where numbers, deadlines, results, and profits matter more than the people within the organization, may experience short term success, but in the long term, these businesses and groups ultimately fail, because they are unable to access their greatest resource – the loyalty, talent and energy of their people.
CBS quotes Sinek as saying that the “great irony” of the corporate situation is that when leaders put employees’ interests first, the staff will work hard and by default “make more money.”
Over time, those organizations that have leaders that put the interest of their teams and customers above their own, experience a higher rate of long term success. When leaders stop treating teams as just another “expendable part” in a machine and show their teams through their actions that they care about them as individuals, the leader increases the teams’ feelings of safety, security, and trust. Teams feel safe to be more productive and to be more creative and innovative. This allows the organization to be stronger and to be able to withstand common business challenges such as increased competition, obsolete technology, difficult economic conditions and the changing wants, needs, and whims of the consumer.
Starting an organization is easy, but growing it is difficult. To ensure the long term success of any group, you need the lifeblood of fresh ideas and innovative practices. To earn the loyalty of your people and to be able to tap into their creativity and passion, you must lead; you must set the tone of your organization and earn their trust by creating a safe environment. Once you do so, you will have created a thriving organization with a strong competitive advantage and the capacity to successfully weather most business challenges.
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