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Patience, Trust, and Physiological Safety- The Trifecta to Success



Some may have (definitely) suggested that my middle name should be “Patient” - so I don’t forget to be! What a good lesson it has been over the many years of supporting change in organizations and teams. It is easy to want to “do” all of the time when the reality is, it is the slow, intentional investment in the possibility of success, and holding of a vision for others that creates lasting change. It is easy to forget that not everyone is in your head and even though you have spent weeks, months, and maybe years researching and brainstorming the best practice or how change can be enacted… not everyone else at the table has been doing the same. Imagine that! Slowly, bring them along into seeing and understanding.


I have learned as a leader that patience is key. It is a slow burn of optimism, of showing others through action, slow advances, and unwavering support, that the vision is possible despite the current odds or past events.


Patience is hard when you just want to ”get the work done," but without the investment in patience, trust and psychological safety, you may get short term change but certainly not long term sustained success.


For sustained success, it's critical for the team to feel the advancement and integrate it fully into their thinking and process, this takes time. This takes trust.


“Past performance is not indicative of future success," this quote has shown up many times this week, a good reminder that past is just that, that past. To look forward with optimism and hope is success.


“Past failures do not indicate future failures.” (My newest spin on the old phrase!) It is this belief that slows progression, it is this thought that derails and paralyzes future growth. Pushing through lost trust requires the leader to hold steady, be consistently reliable, practice clarity of thought and word, and not shy away from difficult discussions. Be humble and honest about the past but also drive the team to optimism and opportunity.


Trust creates social capital, and social capital creates collective movement towards success as discussed on this Freakonomics episode titled “Trust Me”. Brenee Brown says, “Trust is braving the connection between us.” She breaks down the fundamental elements of trust in this short talk called: The Anatomy of Trust.


Finally, if you believe your team wants to be “successful” (however you define that), then what is stopping it from occurring? Many times it's a lack of psychological safety, which allows individuals to express themselves or ideas freely without the fear of ridicule or judgement. A lack of psychological safety leads to quiet observers and status quo. It is your job to create the culture of acceptance, of trust, and celebrate the sparing of ideas and challenging of traditional thought. This type of behavior will absolutely not occur if you, the leader, do not support and celebrate varied perspectives and voices.


Patience, trust and psychological safety integrated together creates success. True success is built into the team, not reliant on one person's energy or enthusiasm, but rather, the vision infiltrates through everyone.


The drive for excellence is felt by every individual and it is this collective energy and attention that will create remarkable results.


My Challenge to You:


  • I have always believed that if something is “too hard," i.e. you feel like you are pushing harder for change than expected or seems reasonable, then stop. Reassess. What are you not seeing or allowing to develop? Critically look and be curious as to what you may not be considering or understanding.

  • Do you have the trust of your colleagues and have you felt the value it brings? If progress is not being made is it because the team is gun shy? Have you lost trust from empty promises and poor followthrough? If so, start there. Publicly set your intentions, work on accountability, and lead with the utmost integrity. Over time, your team will regain the trust.

  • Have you allowed time to build your foundation of trust and psychological safety? Are these words part of your culture? Integrating these concepts into discussion will open the door for honest dialogue and positive change.

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