It’s a Matter of Trust

Managers who lead with authority, rather than coach and facilitate learning and improvement, shut people down.  They do not feel any connection or respect towards their direct reports.  Like the classic factory environment, such personalities and mannerisms cause people to be fearful, stressed, anxious, and discouraged.  There is no empathy or perspective-taking; employees are only there to create more profitability.

Employees cannot thrive in an environment devoid of psychological safety and trust.  The culture of such a company causes people to be silent – they do not communicate or express their ideas because they fear punishment or retribution. Collaboration is weakened and team behaviors or bonds of trust cannot develop. These types of environments can impact reputation, customer service, and turnover and retention.

Employees are looking for positive cultures that are values-based where they can be seen and heard. The competing demands of home and work life responsibilities and demands create stress emotionally, psychologically, and physiologically.

Researcher Paul Zak has conducted experiments to see how trust can be created and the neuroscience behind it. The neurotransmitter, oxytocin, is released in our brains when we feel happy or comforted. While it creates stronger bonds of connection with those whom we care for, this hormone can also help promote trust, empathy, and bonding in work relationships.

Strong work friendships increase employees’ wellbeing and health. They boost resilience during difficult times and allow individuals to feel more socially supported and less isolated.

The good feelings you experience when this brain chemical is released may make you feel more positive about your interactions and enhances trust.

The results are impressive. Conscious empathy are those actions that we intentionally and deliberately make to show that we are paying attention and care about individual concerns and issues. Being accessible and open to conversation, work-related questions with feedback in real time, and flexibility when needed, all contribute to the business and human case for encouraging it in leadership.

Photo by SHVETS production on

“Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout (Zak, 2017, p. 87).”