How do you create a cirkel of trust? I was inspired by Simon Sinek, who took a biological exit during his keynote at the ATD. Let’s see how this works in our body.

We all have a system of rewards and bonus inside our body. Great leaders know how to affect 4 different types of chemicals together known as EDSO.

Endophine: we don’t need them anymore for survival, we need them to get the best out of yourself. The feeling you get when you just did an excellent job. Mostly physical. Like running or hiking up a mountain or… Finishing your best work late at night. It will last short but feels great.

Dopamine: crossing something out of your to do list gives you a great feeling. This is the effect of dopamine. Or the feeling like: “Oh, I found it, here it is!”. Dopamine can be highly ineffective when out of balance: gambling, smoking, alcohol. An unhealthy environment is a high dopamine organization. Addicted to make the numbers. Addicted to make the performance. Like any addict: you will destroy others to get the next hit.

Two social chemicals (called ‘leadership chemicals’) will last:

Serotonin: a chemical that shows up when you feel pride, when you get public recognizition amongst the tribe. When a leader makes clear: I believe in you. I know you can do this. Then Serotonin shows up and we will give them what we have. When we assess that someone is an alpha to us we let them go first. With great joy. We don’t give this to leaders and alpha’s for nothing. We want to avoid danger. And when leaders take a risk to avoid that for a group we’re all in. For example: What if we give Nelson Mandela or Mother Teresa a bonus of 150 million dollars. We think it’s okay. Because they protect us. This is different then managers who use people to reach the numbers. Than, people get angry. Like a shareholders focus. Putting the numbers first. It’s the same focus like a coach is putting his focus in the audience more than at his team players. Or like when we want to create a culture of innovation. After we had a layoff of the people. This isn’t possible. Innovation is about trust and experiment. Heartcounts over headcounts.

Oxytocin: the chemical that is associated with love, being nice, the human touch (hugging) and bonding. We like handshakes without contracts, we don’t like contracts without a handshake. Oxytocin is about kindness and generosity. Without anything in return. Like giving away time and energy. The person on the receiving end gets Oxytocin and feels good as well. Even witnessing an act of generosity gives it as well.

Pay it forward… That’s what great leaders do!

Bathing in the L&D world at the ATD in Denver makes you feel rich, humble and looking for the why. What’s driving our industry? Why are we doing what we are doing? Do we enjoy our profession because we like it ourselves or do we do our job to contribute and support organizations? Or is it both? At least there is a strong connection between high performing organizations and having learning initiatives aligned with strategy. 71% of high performing organizations have such a strong connection. Those organizations manage that all employees seek, share and apply new knowledge and skills. Budget is sufficient. High performing organizations have a dedicated learning function based on connections (connect people, connect ideas, everybody is a student and a teacher), curation (learning at work, curated within the context of a person) and continuity (the business in an organization wants its crucial functions covered by teaching employees to perform).
Going back to the why question. Why does learning work? Simon Sinek is probably the most famous expert on the ‘why’ (how, what) question.

The why on leadership. What does it mean? 

We are social human beings. When you get the environment right, people will do right. And the other way around as well. We have the ability to work together. Trust and cooperation are the key elements. We choose to feel safe and stay away from danger. Feeling safe in your organizations and giving the best of yourself, easily and freely. That’s what leadership is about.

But how about the value of metrics? Is leadership not about achieving your goals? Metrics helps us to count our pace. But what is the problem in organizations: they don’t define the destination of that pace. Or they don’t make it smart. “The biggest”, “the best” or “the nicest” aren’t imaginable. A good destination is what you can see and imagine, than it’s a great vision. A goal for example is 26.2 miles. A vision is a crystal clear sense on how the future looks like. Don’t knowing how to get there. The why: A vision you’re working towards. You don’t have to have a vision. But it is your responsibility to find a vision. All of the work will contribute to what you do. And if your managers or colleagues can’t pronounce it: help them.

Leadership is a choice. Leadership is a daily practise. It’s not about being in charge but taking care of the people whom are in your charge. You stand up and the risks are real.

Doing this leadership job really well needs training. Everyday. Most of the time this excercising will not show any outcomes immediately. It will take more than a week and it has to take less than a year, so Simon Sinek says. However, over time the effects will show. Leadership is the willingness to know what people’s interest is to do things. It needs consistency and intensity.