Tina Turner’s number one hit asks: ‘What’s love gotta do with it – what’s love but a second-hand emotion?’ Remember the song? CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
As a matter of fact, love plays an increasingly important role in creating an empowered culture. Especially in these times of rapid change, employees must learn to adapt and acquire new competencies quickly and continually. Building ongoing learning into team culture requires managers to nurture their people through the process of acquiring confidence in their new capacities. Nurturing is, therefore, not only an expression of kindness, it is a real strategy for team empowerment. Studies from neuroscience show how those areas of the brain, like the hippocampus which enable faster learning, are stimulated when employees work in a team with a culture of kindness. So, managers, be smart and create a loving and mutually supportive team that will enjoy learning.
Converting short -term memory into long-term memory is a function of a healthy hippocampus. This part of the brain is responsible for remembering instructions, the details of a meeting, learning new facts, recalling revised plans, and so forth. However, in people who experience continued stress and unhappiness the hippocampus shrinks, with a resulting decline in function. That is why research shows that when people are happy and relaxed, they are more able to engage enthusiastically with their work, and more readily learn and adjust to change.
Tips for leading from the heart
The best leaders are those who lead from the heart, those who have the ability to inspire others through kindness, flexibility, support, and empowerment.
- Pay attention to people’s behaviour and language; when they show signs of low confidence, step in and offer support
- Be free with compliments and offer praise as people show positive signs of adjusting, experimenting and learning
- Hold ‘team learning meetings’ to regularly encourage the sharing of experiments, learning and successes
- Watch your words and actions – be aware they will generate a reaction in your team, ensure the effect is positive
What else can you do?
- Recruit one or two willing and enthusiastic ‘kindness champions’. Remember, when creating a team culture you as a manager should rather not act alone. Identify some big-hearted souls – they are always there. But since they might not be the most forthcoming you need to seek them out.
- With the support of your kindness champions, compose a message to the team. Encourage them to post on a notice board, around their work stations, or any specific place, quotes that relate to the impact of love and kindness in the workplace. Have post-its on hand.
- Convene a special team meeting, preferably on a Friday afternoon when folks might be more relaxed. With your champions design the meeting format. It could be something like: Ask everyone to bring the quotes to the meeting and pin them up on the walls. Break up into smaller groups of 2 or 3 and discuss these quotes:
- How would any of the quotes impact on work performance?
- What role does love and kindness play when we are learning, and sometimes make mistakes?
- In the light of these insights, how would we like to change the way we behave towards each other?
- What specific new behaviours would we like to track?
- Management tips for facilitation:
- Hold an attitude of there being no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ immediate answers – just encourage participation – let the team’s wisdom emerge through conversation.
- Provide encouragement to anyone showing a willingness to take the lead with follow-up questions, such as: ‘Tell us more about that?’ ‘How do you see that working?’ ‘Who would take a lead on that?’
- Encourage feedback on the kindness conversation process itself: ‘Does this make sense?’ Would you like to continue?’