Archives for August 2019

August 7, 2019 - No Comments!

August SBC Newsletter – Understanding our Brain

How do we create a “brain conscious team?”  As humans we have a basic need for belonging and central to this is an understanding that our brain has social needs, just like it has physical needs.  I learned about how Herman Miller, a highly successful global commercial furniture manufacturing company is taking this seriously.  Meet Heather Esposito, a Senior Learning Strategist with the Sales Readiness Team at Herman Miller.  She shared about their commitment to better brains and better humans.

Sherry: What led you to this brain focus in leadership development?                           

Heather:  I am a Professional Certified Coach and was introduced to Dan Radecki and the psychological S.A.F.E.T.Y. model years ago which led me to take the Academy for Brain-Based Leadership’s (ABL) psychological safety training certification.  I could see the power of this learning and development and it has become a foundation for all we do to prepare our Sales Leaders to more fully understand what drives the behavior of their direct reports.  I attended the inaugural certification, and now I am introducing this framework to leaders and their teams.  For the past three years, I have been helping our leaders develop their coaching skills, and they learned the S.A.F.E.T.Y. model as part of the coaching workshops.   With the new offerings from ABL, we are now able to take the psychological safety work even further.

Herman Miller has led the industry in knowledge and research around human-centered design both in product and the office floorplate.  This focus on designing workplaces to address the fundamental human needs has been central to our mission of “Inspiring designs to help people do great things.”

Since this was already a part of our DNA in creating effective workplaces , it was a logical extension to work with our leaders to develop their awareness and understanding of the brain and its impact on behavior.

Sherry:  How many leaders have you prepared with these concepts?

Heather:  We have equipped over 100 leaders with this training and understanding of our brain and behavior driven by individual and social needs.  We are now expanding the S.A.F.E.T.Y. work to their teams of individual contributors through Team S.A.F.E.T.Y. workshops.

Sherry: What are you seeing as the impact of this work?

Heather: I am seeing a greater awareness that when we meet the needs of our talent, they are in a better brain space which impacts performance, productivity, and engagement.  When this awareness and shift in thinking is not there, we see less connected teams.  Leaders who embrace the coaching and have been open to new ways of doing things have teams with a higher level of engagement with the work and each other – there is a discernable difference.

I finished my stage two certification in January of this year and now I am facilitating team-based workshops – this is the 2.0 of psychological safety.   In the team workshop, the leader and the team map their S.A.F.E.T.Y. profiles and we see how their individual needs complement each other and where there could be potential conflicts or blind spots.  By measuring the current psychological safety of the team, we can also see how effectively these needs are currently being met within the team.   It helps the team understand how they see themselves individually and discuss their different needs in areas such as fairness, security, esteem.  Our goal is have an organization of teams who all have a high degree of psychological safety.

Feelings of threat might erode a sense of security based on what is happening at the time, so it is critical to help each member to recognize what may be triggering them, which S.A.F.E.T.Y. need(s) is/are being impacted and then helping them to reframe and stay solution focused rather than problem focused.  Having remote teams can present additional challenges in communicating across the team. That leads me to the point that a leader can only take the team so far with psychological safety; we have to show up for each another more intentionally – that is the power of this work.  We are equipping the individual to not only better understand themselves but others, as well.

We are also helping the individual contributors to learn it is not everyone else’s job to take care of them. We are developing them to ask for what they need and equipping them to do that.  We are giving our people a common language to get the social needs of the brain met in a more meaningful way.

Sherry: What have you learned about yourself through this experience?

Heather:  There are several things.  First, we are all a work in progress. We can always grow and develop ourselves, and I am a life-long learner.  Second, small changes can make a big impact.  A few small shifts in language make a big difference.  Words matter.  Third, people want to be better and they often don’t know how.  We really never learned about developing interpersonal skills in school.  We were not taught how to be brain friendly in our communications.  The lower brain allows us to fall into being the victim. We can keep that higher brain in control, but it takes building awareness and teaching others.

In Summary

I so appreciated the opportunity to speak with Heather and learn about the work happening at Herman Miller.  It is clear that she and the Sales Readiness team are leading a transformation.  It has resulted in the team building a strong reputation within the organization. Her energy and enthusiasm was contagious and now I am re-reading Dan’s book, Psychological Safety.

She has earned the trust of the leaders with whom she is privileged to work.  Congratulations on your work and passion Heather – we know this is such important work for all of us.  It is purposeful and feeds our quest to be better leaders and better humans.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

August 6, 2019 - No Comments!

SBC August 2019 Newsletter – It’s Your Brain – Not You with Dr. Dan Radecki

Our issue this month is about brain science and understanding our own brain and yes, it does work in mysterious ways.

“The operating principle of our brain places us in safety first.  If our brain does not feel safe, it can’t enjoy what we are doing,” according to our special guest, brain science expert and friend Dan Radecki.  Dan’s new book, Psychological Safetyoffers a refreshing model to cut right to the essence of where our challenge of fear or stress is created.  When we understand what drives discomfort we can take risks and see the possibilities in a new light.

I met Dan years ago and vividly recall his refreshing approach to a complicated topic - the science of our brain.  I felt relieved to know we could do something about not only understanding our brain but improving our ability to reduce stress and uncertainty.  The impact stretches to our own happiness as well as our relationships with others on our teams or at home.  Recently I attended a session Dan held in Orange County to take his work in the science of the brain into a discussion of inclusion and diversity in the workplace. He shared more about where this research has taken him in working with leaders and organizations. Here is Dan’s take on his journey.

Sherry:  How did psychological safety become your focus?

Dan:  I was studying as a psych undergrad and graduate – studying the brain – and my thesis was on the impact that stress has on our brain and behavior.  In animal studies we saw how stress impacts behavior and today our stress is quite different from the fight and flight era of early man.  But it is what we internally generate that drives stress today.  Psych safety was part of my work years ago.  Taking it further, given that we are in a world of technology explosion and constant connection with online social media, Google published a study in 2015 affirming how psychological safety is a critical factor for high performance.

Sherry: What prompted you to start the Academy of Brain-based leadership?

Dan: My journey in education started at the Neuroleadership Institute. In 2009 we created curriculum on how to build better leaders with an understanding of brain science. We built ABL 5 years ago with the goal of extending that work to the mainstream with a community of practitioners.  Our plan was to be a repository of knowledge and now almost 11 years later we are educating, certifying professionals in over 50 countries and getting the message out. The educational programs are global and I am surprised and delighted with the expanding reach and interest.

Sherry: How “brain conscious” are we today?  What is your vision for heightening this consciousness?

Dan: We are not brain conscious today – it is getting worse. We are on auto pilot too often.  Whether we are on the phone, on line or driving and on phone, we don’t think, we react.  Our emotional brain is in high drive so it makes it hard to be objective about our world. If we are self-aware, and realize that there is a need for autonomy, then we can manage to this.  I see there is a growing acceptance and understanding about the brain and our safety model.  It is being introduced into companies and teams and influencing how our leaders deal with the world around them.

Sherry: Has this research changed you? How so?  

Dan:I think it is making me more focused on how I come across to others and what I need to do in the moment.  It allows me to more effectively re-appraise what is happening and realize it is not me, it is my brain. Only then, I can adapt, pause or determine what is motivating me to take an action or respond is a certain way.

Sherry: What and how do you recommend new leaders learn about the SAFETY model? 

Dan: This is a competency that can be developed for new leaders and I recommend our web site for research, tools and an assessment to gauge where they are in the five key elements. Those are security, autonomy, fairness, esteem, trust and factors unique to each of us.  Read more about these key elements in Dan’s book. 

Sherry:  Any advice for early career professionals who are navigating new roles and cultures in their companies today?

Dan: I suggest an approach with early careerists that introduce the brain safety model and -
“it’s not you, it’s your brain.”

How are you making decisions? Brains don’t like change, rather than manage the stress, at the moment it happens – I recommend that you work to build brain resilience now. It is a practice that incorporates self-awareness, mindfulness, and how our brain braking systems work.

Sherry:  How are start-ups managing the higher reasoning brain? 

Dan:  Leaders in a start-up manage risk and move quickly. If there is a failure, the idea of rapid change and failing quickly is part of the moving fast game plan.  I see Silicon Valley entrepreneurs use their higher brain to look more astutely at growth rather than risk.

Thank you Dan! You mention that the writing of the book took a tribe of important people in your life.  Leonie Hull, co-founder of the Academy of Brain Based Leadership, Jennifer McCusker, Head of Global Learning and OD from Activision Blizzard and others who supported your work brought wonderful insights and experiences.   To find out more about building better brains, check out Dan’s site and learn more about the assessment. 

More About Dan

Dr. Dan Radecki is Co-founder at the Academy of Brain-based Leadership (ABL), which offers a scientifically validated, brain-based approach for future-oriented leaders and organizations interested in optimizing their performance, relationships and health.  He also serves as Executive Director of Research and Development at Allergan Inc., where he is a Global Leader for drug development programs.  Dan holds a Bachelors in Psychology, Masters in Biopsychology and PhD in Neuroscience.

Working as a leader in the corporate world allows Dan the unique perspective on how our knowledge of brain functioning can aid leaders in maximizing their results as well as the results of their teams.  With this unique perspective from roles in both the leadership and neuroscientific world, in 2009 Dan created the content for the educational arm of the NeuroLeadership Institute and served as the lead professor and advisor for the Master of Science program in the Neuroscience of Leadership.  This was the first university-accredited program ever developed to incorporate cutting edge neuroscience research into an optimal model of leadership.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized