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Raise your People: Raise your Capital

Raise your People: Raise your Capital

The strive for profit can become a constant pressure in business. If you’re in a position of management or leadership, you’re probably familiar with the ever present need to push for growth.

What strategies actually work to not just boost sales and increase profits, but to raise the value of a business, to raise the capital?

Of course, you need to be attuned to the market place and ensure that what you’re selling, people want to buy. But this kind of thinking can also turn into a treadmill of external focus. Lose sight of what’s happening inside your organization, and you lose a golden opportunity to raise capital “from the inside out.”

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Managers and business owners have an innate sense of this. But there can sometimes be a problem with the language. There are conversations happening in board rooms and leadership meetings that circle around this sentence: How do we get our people to step up?

It implies that people are unmotivated or lacking in some way. And perhaps, in some cases, this is true. But more often than not, you’ll find organizations full of talented, hard working people who want to stretch themselves but aren’t given the right opportunities or tools.

But we provide a whole of PD for our staff—they’re always off doing some course or another!

That’s great. Training courses, coaching programs, external workshops, internal team building exercises—these all provide an experience of learning for staff. They might learn how to spot an opportunity or take the next step on their career ladder.

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But this kind of one-off learning usually produces one-off or limited results.

For far reaching results, that start to actually shift the culture of your organization, you may need to implement fundamental changes to learning. The key is you have to teach people how to think differently and think creatively.

This can be a huge challenge for some workers who have always played a passive role and been taught (implicitly or explicitly) to obey orders, wait for instructions and toe the line.

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Instilling a creative leadership mindset in your staff will give your organization a powerful edge. There are two very successful ways you can approach this kind of shift:

1. Implement an Emerging Leaders Program.

I’ve found this brings extraordinary results. Tap the people in your organization who show high potential talent and provide them with the chance to learn in a new way. The Emerging Leaders Program I’ve developed uses a combination of master class training sessions, 1:1 coaching and peer to peer guided facilitation supported by more experience leaders in the business.

This environment of collective energy and shared knowledge gives participants unique insights and can accelerate creativity and innovation. I recently ran an 8 month program with a company called Ridley Agriproducts. The aim was for each Emerging Leader to create a new offer or enhance an existing offering to their customers and stakeholders. The return of these individual commercial projects was reviewed and showed substantial results. As impressive as the commercial success was, just as important was the very clear increase in autonomy each participant gained.

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2. Do some intensive focus work with your Leadership Team

Great leaders lead by example. It’s crucial that you boost the skills and confidence of your leadership team on a regular basis. I worked recently with a large manufacturing company in Australia. We focussed specifically on developing their senior leaders to connect and engage with members and stakeholders in a more authentic way.

The commercial goal was to convert customers to clients. The great success of this initiative was a group led shift in language that named the outcome as: “casual customer to contented clients.”

Lifting the capability of your team—at management level and throughout the organization—is one of the most important and successful ways to raise capital. Once they truly understand and are enabled and empowered to stretch their own minds, the way they think, they will strive for ever increasing potential. This ultimately leads to raising financial capital. And the flow on is ongoing as people see and reap the rewards of learning to be more innovative.

Featured photo credit: structuredbusinessfinance via structuredbusinessfinance.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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