What detoxifies a negative work environment?
In the office, vulnerability is the opposite of weakness.
Simon O. Sinek is an author best known for popularizing the concept of "the golden circle" and to "Start With Why," described by TED as "a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?"'. He joined the RAND Corporation in 2010 as an adjunct staff member, where he advises on matters of military innovation and planning. His first TEDx Talk on "How Great Leaders Inspire Action" is the 3rd most viewed video on TED.com. His 2009 book on the same subject, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009) delves into what he says is a naturally occurring pattern, grounded in the biology of human decision-making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.
He has commented for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, FastCompany, CMO Magazine, NPR, and BusinessWeek, and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, BrandWeek, and IncBizNet.
SIMON SINEK: When we talk about a trusting team or trusting partners I think very often we forget that trust is not an instruction. Trust is a feeling. You cannot tell someone to trust you. No leader can just tell their company trust me. It doesn't work that way. Trust is a feeling. It's a biological feeling that comes from the environment we're in. When we feel safe in our own environment, when we feel that our leaders care about us as human beings and want to see us grow and build our confidence in our skills, when we feel safe in our own companies, trust emerges. It's what happens. When we do not feel save in our own companies, when we feel that our leaders would soon as sacrifice us to save numbers rather than sacrifice numbers to save us the human response to those conditions is cynicism, paranoia, mistrust and self-interest. And so if we want to build trusting teams we have to create environments. Leaders have to set an environment in which the people feel safe amongst themselves and from us.
There's much discussion about this concept of vulnerability at work. We have to be vulnerable we're told. That doesn't mean walking around crying. What vulnerability means is saying things like I don't know what I'm doing. It means like you put me in a job and I don't know how to do that job. It means raising your hand and saying I made a mistake. These put us in a vulnerable position, especially in a work world in which layoffs are used so casually that I feel like I'm on a short list. And so we would rather not express any sense of weakness whether it's fear or doubt or mistakes that we've made or lack of skills. We just keep it to ourselves and too many of us spend our days lying, hiding and faking. The irony is our attempt to present ourselves as strong every day means the company itself will get weak. Because if no one is admitting mistakes, those mistakes will compound. If people are doing jobs that they don't know how to do and they're lying, hiding and faking that means the output will be weak. The irony is is when people hide their fallibility, their humanity it actually makes the company weak. But when we create environments in which people feel safe enough to say to their boss I need help or I don't know what I'm doing or I made a mistake. The amazing thing is that actually makes the organization stronger.
So the question is how do we if we do not work in an environment that offers us that safe circle that we can express ourselves thusly then the question is what are we supposed to do? Well it's kind of like any human relationship. You don't start on the first date telling them all of your fears and anxieties and insecurities. That would be madness, right. You get to know somebody first. And then as you get to know them you take a little risk and you share something small. And you see if they listen and they make you feel understood and they make you feel heard. Or if they make you feel stupid or small. And if it feels safe you take another little risk and another little risk and they take a risk. If you're the only one doing it it doesn't work either. And this little sort of dance commences and at some point, I'm not sure exactly when, you find yourself completely comfortable being completely raw and completely yourself with this other human being who feels exactly the same way as you do. And that's exactly the same thing that we can do at work which is we find those few people and we take little risks and you say things like I'm not sure, are you? And they go no, not really. And you just express weakness to each other. It's wonderful. And you'll help each other and that's the point. It's about relationships. It's not about me finding strength. It's about us expressing our fallibility and our humanity together and together we will help each other. And together we will do whatever needs to be done because we are better together.
- Trust is necessary for a healthy and efficient work environment.
- This trust emerges when not only do we feel safe within our company, but that our leaders genuinely care about us.
- Establishing these relationships requires vulnerability and honesty from both leaders and their employees.
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