Want to build a safe, engaging culture? Use science!

Want to build a safe, engaging culture? Use science! | practice (split each time) | How realism can lead to resiliency
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January 18, 2024
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Leading the Way
Want to build a safe, engaging culture? Use science!
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The autonomic nervous system regulates how we react to our world, whether to fight, flee, freeze or engage, write Randy Brazie and Geoffrey VanderPal, coauthors of "The Steadfast Leader," who recommend strategies that have boosted collaboration and employee satisfaction. These included educating top leaders and managers on how to apply Polyvagal Theory, creating inviting physical environments, instituting open communications and conducting team building activities, they write.
Full Story: ThoughtLeaders (1/17) 
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Put it into practice: Empathy workshops, mentorship programs and regular check-ins with direct reports can go a long way to creating a safe and engaging culture, write Brazie and VanderPal. Such changes can signal "employees' nervous systems that the workplace [is] a safe space, fostering a sense of security and openness," they note.
SmartBrief on Leadership
How realism can lead to resiliency
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Resilience isn't an ability to avoid hardship; it's the ability to work through it, according to mental toughness coach LaRae Quy. That means you come out the other side as a different person than you went in by going "beneath the surface ... so [you] can grow," Quy writes, offering three ways to improve your resiliency.
Full Story: SmartBrief/Leadership (1/17) 
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Put it into practice: When something goes awry, don't pretend nothing has changed. Quy advises building resiliency by learning to care about others, developing and nurturing relationships and preparing for the worst while expecting the best.
Read more from LaRae Quy on SmartBrief on Leadership
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Employees who know they needn't be afraid of you or worry about being judged likely feel safe, and maintaining an atmosphere of respectful communication can keep it that way, leadership coach Lolly Daskal writes. Encouraging open dialogue among everyone promotes inclusivity, another way Daskal suggests to help workers feel safe.
Full Story: Lolly Daskal (1/16) 
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Put it into practice: Practice being approachable and building relationships. Active listening can help, as can transparency and asking others to speak up, Daskal notes.
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In Their Own Words
What qualities Magic Johnson looks for as a leader
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Earvin "Magic" Johnson, NBA legend and chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, joined Walmart US President John Furner at NRF 2024: Retail's Big Show to share thoughts on success, hard work, giving back, maintaining the right mindset and choosing the right team that's focused on winning. "I only hire people like that -- the same type of mindset, the same type of dedication, the same type of discipline, the same type of focus."
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Daily Diversion
Some dogs have superhuman ability to find their way home
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A collie mix found its way home to Silverton, Ore., from 3,000 miles away in Indiana; a blind fox terrier walked between his old and new homes every week; a German shepherd dog found his way home to Solingen, Germany, after being lost 1,200 miles away in southern Italy. Scientists aren't sure how these and other dogs found their way home after being lost in faraway places, but a recent study did find that some dogs use Earth's north-south magnetic axis as a guide.
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SmartBreak: Question of the Day
About The Editor
Candace Chellew
Candace Chellew
Chellew
In the course of my career, I have encountered unsafe working environments. My boss at a radio station came to blows with one of the other news anchors and verbally and mentally bullied everyone else on the staff, including me. The vice president of the department I worked for at a Georgia university was so officious and micro-managing that no one dared speak up or offer suggestions for improving the office culture.

Today's issue offers excellent advice on creating a culture of openness and collegiality. Randy Brazie and Geoffrey VanderPal suggest using the science of Polyvagal Theory to allay our fight, flight and freeze tendencies and create a space for collaboration. At the same time, Lolly Daskal offers seven strategies to make the office culture more transparent, inclusive, and safe.

Have you encountered toxic cultures? How did -- or do -- you cope? Have you experienced an open, safe and collegial culture? How was it created? Let me know!

If this newsletter helps you, please tell your colleagues, friends or anyone who can benefit. Forward them this email, or send this link.

What topics do you see in your daily work that I should know about? Do you have praise? Criticism? Drop me a note. And don't forget to send me photos of your pets, your office and where you spend your time off.
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If you write great songs with meaning and emotion, they will last for ever because songs are the key to everything.
Elton John,
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