I am leaving the technical stuff for a minute and I will write about how Happy Chemicals helps us to make our team’s performance last. Some of the statements that I will share comes from the book “Leaders eat last” by Simon Sinek. Some time ago, I’ve shared some thoughts about it in my note “Social animals we must be (Odile hurricane’s experience)”, I invite you to read about this experience and how happy chemicals help my family and me under these circumstances.
Happy chemicals were created by nature to help us to survive along millions of years. Since we were not the strongest specie on the globe and we had to run and walk huge distances to get something to eat and take the rest to our tribe. At this time, our body and chemicals help us to survive.
One of the most produced happy chemicals, even today, it’s Dopamine. Dopamine was what made us to walk hundreds of kilometers searching for food to take it to our starving tribe. Dopamine is the chemical of success, and usually you get a shot of it when you’re close to meet your goals. Our ancestors got Dopamine’s shots every time they saw the tree that they were looking for to recollect fruits or when they see their prey that they were following for days. Dopamine brings satisfaction and make hunters last days to get the so waited Dopamine’s shot, when they finally meet their goals.
Today’s companies also take advantage of Dopamine to reward individual performance – besides of some cases where Dopamine is combined with a juicy bonus -. Every time you meet your sales’ goals or projects’ deadlines, you are getting a shot of it. It feels nice and cool. However, Dopamine is addictive, and could be also an important part of your problem. You could get a shot, for instance, every time you see a cigarette’s box, if you are an smoker.
Dopamine is a very important chemical in today’s culture of any organization. But, you can not based your culture on just Dopamine exclusively. You have to also create the conditions under people can appreciate the good job from other team’s members and extend de circle of trust to integrate us all. Under a Dopamine’s only culture, people will performance individually well, but they could undermine team’s work.
Back to our ancestors, the tribe knew how to reward leaders/hunters that took care of them, this recognition brings serotonin, the chemical that flows when you feel important. Who doesn’t like to step up in front of the team getting some sort of recognition? The big issue in the today’s organizations is the lack of acknowledge for the employees’s job. People like to be rewarded and feel important towards his/her peers and bosses’ eyes. A culture based exclusively on Dopamine, don’t help so much to get that. In fact, people may take advantage from others trying to meet their goals.
Our ancestors also knew how to trust on each other inside the tribe in order to face any outside danger like a hungry animal or other tribe. It was really important to get a circle of trust between your leaders and peers. This trust produce oxytocin, the chemical of trust. Find oxytocin is the today’s organization is even harder. That requires blind trust between leaders, managers, executives and peers. But, how to trust on your peers if they expose you every time they are facing an issue at work? Or when your boss doesn’t support you when you fail for doing your best? Or when executives beat you for questioning their decisions? Oxytocin is one of the most difficult chemicals to produce among the members of your team, but one of the more lasting ones.
Innovation and oxytocin are the closest friends. Innovation is not just a market trend to follow or a execution of one idea that came up from the CTO. innovation could flow from every spot inside an organization. People propose ideas when they trust. People helps you to execute an idea from any peer or leader, if they also trust them. They want to help you because they believe on you, as you believe on them. It will pay off eventually.
Be cool! be nice from the side, from bellow, and most important, from above – I’ve got inspired with this last phrase from “speaking as a leader” by Judith Humphrey –
Be a leader and inspire people to trust each other.
See you soon!