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The Fear-free Organization: Vital Insights from Neuroscience to Transform Your Business Culture Paperback – 3 Jul 2015
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"I wish I had read something like this a long time ago. In my decades as a corporate leader, I observed and learned the hard way about a lot of themes in the book.... I came to know these things were real over the years but never really understood why they were happening until reading this book." (Thomas M. Botts, retired Executive Vice President, Royal Dutch Shell)
"Beautifully written, clearly structured and brimming with compelling case studies, this new work transports us into the psychological core of organizational life and provides us with rich recipes for understanding the complex and often tortured dynamics of the workplace." (Professor Brett Kahr, Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the London Centre for Child Mental Health)
"If you work in an organization, you already know this: fear runs the place. What you may not know is that fear is going to ruin it, too, sooner or later. This book tells us why. Then it tells us how to change that." (Nancy Kline, author of Time to Think)
"The jewel in the crown of all the recent books on this subject... All leaders of complex organizations should have this book by their bedside and their office." (Professor Patrick Pietroni, Director, Centre for Psychological Therapies in Primary Care, University of Chester)
"This book superbly explains what is really going on together with fascinating insights on the fears that all of us have experienced in the workplace and which have such a destructive effect on culture. And then the authors provide some practical advice on how to change things for the better." (Charlie Geffen, Chair, London Corporate, Gibson Dunn)
"[T]he essential manual for effective management. It provides the practical methods needed to motivate people to do their best work. The authors explain, simply and understandably, how to apply the most advanced neuroscientific insights to business management. It is ground breaking and indispensable." (Dotson Rader, Contributing Editor, Parade)
"Fear pervades the workplace. It corrodes profits and stunts growth. This essential read equips CEOs with the tools to build a fear-free environment -and success." (Robin Morgan, CEO, Iconic Images)
"[I]t outlines a range of effective, practical strategies to help build a healthier environment that can deliver real and measurable benefits to the individual, teams and the organization - the fear-free organization." (Dr Brian Marien, Founder and Director of Positive 2016-07-11)
"Leadership is about making sense, and this book makes a lot of sense. I highly recommend it for leaders, and those who aspire to become one." (Rien Herber, former Shell Executive and Professor at Groningen University)
Highlights that a culture of fear is destructive to both people and businesses, and offers new, cost-effective, healthy and efficient ways to run businesses built on trust
Shows how to apply insights from neuroscience to deliver high-performing, well-functioning, thriving teams and productive, profitable organizations
Provides an accessible introduction to the workings of the brain and to how our thinking and emotions can be integrated to create energy and cooperation rather than fear
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Neuroscientific research backs up these claims in seeking to map the brain's dynamic interdependence of energy, emotional intelligence (relationships) and intellect (information), and has shown the effects of stress in neurotransmitting cortisol in the brain. For a perceived threat (preparedness theory) the amygdala either responds to the low road (direct attack used by fear ), or the high road via the cortex (which re-re-represents, i.e. it filters the lower levels: Jackson) that results in the kind of anxiety that cannot distinguish reality from metaphor, and may resort to a range of defensive/coping mechanisms, i.e. magical thinking, conspiracies, paranoia.
For example, consider the following fear-adaptive behaviours in an organisation that can make it less productive:
The inward flow-flowing of energy in survival mode, that should be energy that is outward-flowing in the service of the organisation, prioritises the energy maintenance of staving off perceived attack over creative expenditure, as often observed in the behaviours of do-minimum time-servers.
The positional power of authority figures in dominator hierarchies that can be exploited to make staff reliant on them for survival by diluting and diverting threats, and setting the parameters of happiness as temporary mood states through "favours". These emotional treats essentially have no intrinsic motivational properties except in conditioning acceptable traits of behaviour.
Questionable hegemonc alliances that maintain the status quo of organisational mutual advantageousness at the detriment of the individual. This is often seen in "linked-in" HR systems that maximise the powerbase for the business as whole, rather than talent manage its employees, whom are often disengaged and afraid to challenge the glass ceilings, inner circles and rank and file of "yes" clans.
The power of measurement as a ticked box exercise destroys "the plane of possibility" (Siegel) and immobilises relationships through bureaucratic legislation. In only quantifying the bottom line relationships are systemised so they become protocols of behaviour, especially observed in 'presentee-ism': absent-in-the-mind (mindless) staff conditioned to conform to expected norms of compliancy through the negative inducement of fear.
However, if all of these findings seem overly doom and gloom laden, Part Two prefigures the research of Laloux and proposes a number of newer ways for creating soulful organisations based on relational based culture of 'trustingness'. This HOT (honest - open - trust) vision aims to encourage surprising delightful environments, aid creative understanding, and give expression to the reality of peoples voices inside, however far fetched their fears, by revealing the whole person.
Within these organisations it is the role of leaders to "stimulate and harness energy, enjoy its productivity, see how personal and organisational goals can be aligned and watch stretch happen naturally"( i.e. see Laloux's listening to the evolutionary purpose). Top responsibility should be handed to well-integrated individuals with the necessary intelligent emotional maturity of presence to recognise that people don't want to be managed to survive, but want to be 'unleashed' to thrive. Presence means the integrating of the shadow of the psyche into qualities such as the absence of survival, personal gain and defensive mechanisms, i.e. fearlessness.
Leaders are in a true role of governance to create the conditions where the supply of human energy is continuously renewed through the quality of relationships within the organisation; of getting their staff to work together to see the world objectively, particularly filtering out stories of confrontation, which maybe untrue, and correcting assumptions about others. A number of essential models are presented that help clarify an emergent organisation:
- The five domains of social experience (SCARF:Rock) outlines how the brain monitors for psychological growth shaped by Status: (significance); Certainty (competence); Autonomy; Relatedness (likability); Fairness (integrity);
- The Spheres Of Influence (Cousins/Downs) model emphasises how leadership is a dialogue of feedback (i.e. intention v impact of action) in honestly understanding the the culture (trust), its strategy (commitment), the collective conversation and its diversity and ambiguity which are critical in an unpredictable, uncertain world. A SOFI dynamic flow visual map produces a metric that helps to see things accurately, not numerically, and is an energy flow diagram for the company.
In this brave new world the Human Resources Department now has the title of Organisational Energy of Excellence (OEE), and is a talent and development expert that evidences its own practices in what it is doing to support individuals. The OEE has the capacity to be able to perceptually fine tune the energy flows within the organisation through tracking its 'focal points' based on the opportunities of how people feel they can use own energy (and new pathways) to reach their personal focus goals (PFGs), and identify what are the blockers. In "resonance management" peoples brains are in synchronisation with their leader's brain, e.g. the top executives at Amazon who get to implement Jeff Bezos's best ideas are called Jeff Bots! All systems are based around principles of secure attachment and meetings are focused on embedding time to think not displays of ego posturing.
These are a few of the many ideas covered that can bring a tear to a glass eye if all one has ever encountered is the hidden fear, pressure and stress of classic pyramidic work structures. It is mentioned that the test for a limbic leader is to ask "are joy and trust apparent around here?" Higher energy can only be gifted, brought into play through human beings in trusting relationships, not bought - a crucial condition - and a successful thriving accountable organisation encourages everyone to make the human spirit courageous. What is there not to like?