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Leadership isn't about Looking Good, It's about Your Team Feeling Good

One of the common traps leaders make is falling into the belief that they need to prove they can do the work required, so they focus on the work to be done. This means they bury themselves in delivery, under-manage their team, promote their personal achievements and defer to managing up rather than managing their team. 

The interesting thing is there is compelling research that leaders who spend time ensuring their team feel good get better results.

The feelings of our team can make a difference to how our team performs overall. Leaders play a huge role in shifting their team member's in the right energetic direction whether they are aware of it or not. 

Imagine you have walked into a room where two of your colleagues are having an argument. The energy feels thick, tense and uncomfortable. Contrast that to walking into a room where your colleagues are laughing and caring about one another. The energy feels supportive, fun and positive.  

Which room would motivate you to stay longer? The answer is pretty obvious - the room that is filled with laugher draws us in. It's pretty contagious. Energy that is filled with arguing, yelling or blaming makes us feel like walking out of that room pretty quickly.

Yet, it's not just obvious energetic tension that can make a team feel uncomfortable. There is also evidence to suggest that how people are feeling and what they are thinking about impacts the energy of their team.

Research by the HeartMath Institute found that our thoughts and feelings create an energy field around us which lowers or lifts up the attitudes or dispositions of those located near us. 

In a study by Dr Rollins McCraty, his research found that the energetic field that each member of a group generates a social field environment. Each group member’s heart coherence contributes to the group’s collective coherence. 

McCraty and other scientists have found that group members who are at higher coherence levels actually can, by virtue of the energetic field environment, help raise the coherence levels of other members and potentially even the entire group.
McCraty observed in a journal article “There may be a biomagnetic communication that serves to connect and distribute information among members of stable groups,” he explained. “There are several lines of research suggesting that an energetic field connects individual group members directly, and simultaneously distributes information between the group members.”
How leaders act, think and feel in the workplace really matters. Teams are influenced by each person’s energy, attitudes/emotions, and words. Your thoughts are feelings that feed into the social field environment. You are able to influence others in your team to feel better about themselves, their job and even their colleagues through your energy. When group members are in a stable, coherent state, the team is in a more harmonious flow that creates more effective outcomes.
Yet, as Marshall Goldsmith the author of countless books on leadership said "We tend to think more about how we are feeling, rather than how we are making others feel." It's why so many leaders default to hiding away and getting work done because that can sometimes feel better than dealing with people.
Working with your team to make each team member feel good is actually more critical to getting results than most leaders realise. It's where you get better leverage and productivity. It also means being aware of your feelings and what unintended signals you are sending out.

The Power of Mirroring

Our brains are designed to model other people as a short cut mechanism to learning. This occurs through "mirror neurons."  

Mirror neurons are critical in organisations because employees are always observing leaders to see how to behave. In particular, leaders' emotions and actions signal to employees to copy those feelings and actions. Leaders commonly activate neural circuitry in followers' brains. If a leader isn't aware of this powerful ability, they can often unintentionally switch on the wrong behaviours in the people around them.

Leaders who are fun to be around leverage mirror neurons in a positive way. We all want to be around bosses who make us feel good. Seems obvious, yet the pressure from deliverables and personal issues can make leaders tense. This means they inadvertently take their frustrations out on their team members or send out the wrong energetic signals that people sense and react to.


Four Steps to Making your Team Feel Good

Making your team feel good on a daily basis is no mean feat. There will be times when you have personal issues, workplace issues and deliverables that stress you out. Understanding that the energy you send out is impacting those around you means really working on how you can keep your energy upbeat.  Here are four steps to help:
1. Develop a morning routine - What lifts your energy and sets you up for a great day? Work on a routine that energises you and not depletes you.  For me, this means exercising, doing a meditation and eating breakfast on my own.
2. Looking after you - Understand your emotional triggers and stresses, so you can minimise occurrences when you are not at your best. This might mean getting more sleep, exercising daily, having regular massages or taking time out to go for a walk around the block at lunch time.
3. Minimise negative reactions - When negative news comes across your desk, how do you react? Practice being more calm and not jumping to conclusions. Default to asking "how" and "what" questions to help you unpack what needs to be done.
4. Seek a good vibe accountability buddy - Find someone else at work (or a coach or therapist) who can give you positive advice when it all gets too much.  Having someone to talk to who is trying to do the same thing is helpful.
As human beings we all want to feel that we matter, that we belong and that the work we are doing is meaningful.
Dr Amy Edmondson, in her book The Fearless Organisation, says "One of the most important capabilities of a leader is to create a safe environment that reduces interpersonal risk."
This involves leaders who are willing to do the work of making their team feel good, rather than defaulting to looking good. 
In my book, Trusted to Thrive, I unpack the very things that people need to see and feel in the workplace to believe that they are safe to perform.

Leaders who understand this are the ones that people want to work with. They are the leaders who create an environment so it’s hard for people to leave. They are the leaders that inspire loyalty. They are what I call Trusted Leaders. Progressive leaders who realise it’s not about them looking good, it’s about everyone around them feeling good about themselves, their work and their colleagues.
If you want to read more tips on how to do this  pick up your copy of Trusted to Thrive today. It’s available on Amazon, Booktopia and all other good book stores.

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