The Neuroscience of trust in leadership

How important is trust in leadership? Consider Gallup’s meta-analysis of decades’ worth of data: It shows that high engagement—defined largely as having a strong connection with one’s work and colleagues, feeling like a real contributor, and enjoying ample chances to learn—consistently leads to positive outcomes for both individuals and organizations.

Many organizations have borrowed from both the Tayloristic and Para-military models of hierarchical leadership is not setup to deliver on a highly trusting employee-employer relationship. Both organizational psychology and safety science have found this style of leadership contributes to significant distrust and safety deterioration within organizations.

Experiments show that having a sense of higher purpose stimulates oxytocin production, as does trust. Trust and purpose then mutually reinforce each other, providing a mechanism for extended oxytocin release, which produces happiness.

Healthcare and Emergency Services to many is a higher calling and provides a great sense of purpose with common goals and delivers well on the concept of neurotransmitter production for happiness and fulfillment. Many of us know the rush and self-affirmation in performing with great outcomes in complex situations.  Can we reframe the sense of purpose we have to achieve this sense more often with routine aspects of our work?

We will explore the deeper aspects of psychological safety within an organization and how it contributes to a positive work culture as a result of trust. What are the benefits to the organization, workers and patients? How does building a trusting workplace contribute to safer patient care and safer workplaces? How does one build sustainable workplace trust?

Trust sits at the core of high performing teams, and the presence or lack thereof is directly reflected in team outcomes. Understanding that an absence of trust often manifests in a fear of conflict, evidenced by a lack of commitment and avoidance behaviour, leading to inattention to results.  Trust is not only essential to a performance, but also a psychologically safe work culture.

How can we reframe the sense of purpose in combination with a trusting organization to build on the symbiotic elements of trust and purpose that enable our teams to perform optimally and thrive in a psychologically safe environment? Research is showing the psychologically safe and trusting work environments have and overall safer workplace, including occupational stress injuries and ultimately PTSD.

Everything we say and do, or don’t say and don’t do has an impact on our team.  The foundation to enabling teams is personal awareness of the impact of individual behaviour. Team culture is experienced through the thousands of daily interactions and touch points between team members and others they interact with. Enabling teams is about giving and receiving feedback, having robust conversations, and creating an environment of psychological safety that is deliberately developmental as well as accountable for results.

The objectives of this presentation include:

  • An introduction to the effects of tayloristic and para-military style leadership on organizational trust and communication;
  • Psychological and neurotransmitter-based effects of organizational shared purpose, trust and psychological safety;
  • Moving beyond the Newtonian-Cartesian linearity perspectives in complex and diverse work environments;
  • Elements that foster or destruct organizational trust;
  • Building psychologically safe organizations through trust, a way forward;
  • Reframing the view towards purpose.

This talk is optimal for senior leaders and entire leadership teams who wish to better understand workplace culture and how shared purpose, trust and psychological safety are essential to the workforce of the future and creating safer workplaces.