I can’t stand it when a manager, hearing me broach the importance of building trusting relationships with their employees, blurts out the tired old term, touchy-feely. To dismiss the complex role of relationships in fostering sustained high performance is to just not get it as a leader in the 21st century.
In a recent posting on the Harvard Business Review Blog, Naomi Eisenberter and George Kohlrieser raise three important points about this from their studies in neuroleadership.
- “…most of us are hostages at work in different ways, to emotions such as anxiety, fear, and ambition.” As we navigate the shoals and eddies of daily life in a high pressured work environment, we need what the authors call a “secure base.” That would be one’s immediate manager, folks.
- Humans need to feel social connections with others. As the two writers so aptly put it, when employees experience the isolating effect of being intimidated, shamed, or threatened by a boss, “the brain slams the brakes on the prefrontal cortex and makes it harder for people to think productively.”
- Having a supportive individual present or readily available reduces your stress level as you tackle the challenges of working effectively and growing your capacity by taking on new tasks.
Being a trusted support and coach as a manager doesn’t mean mollycoddling your people. It doesn’t mean protecting them from all stress. On the contrary, it means challenging, inviting, even pushing them to bring out the best that they have to contribute and continually raising the ceiling of what that “best” is.
Get to know your people. Discover your own genuine caring for them and their success. Support them even as you challenge them. Earn their trust. Then watch their natural neuro processes kick in and their contributions rise to a much higher “best.”