Feelings and Our Guiding Principles
What are the Guiding Principles of your organization? For you as an individual? This excerpt from The Shift from Me to Team, which will be published this year, begins the exploration of the importance of Guiding Principles in how we feel.
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Each of us possesses an internal set of Guiding Principles that govern how we respond, whether we are conscious of it or not. When honored or violated, these principles determine how we feel. This is no less true at work than in any other aspect of our lives.
There is a natural flow when we are operating in alignment with our shared principles. Even in our struggles and challenges, we feel confident as we journey toward success. We feel we were put in this place to make a positive impact on something much bigger than ourselves. These feelings are real. They rise in response to the release of serotonin and oxytocin—our happiness hormones. They are also stress blockers, and they allow us to tap into our energy for peak performance.
Recommendation: Establish a small set of principles—no more than four or five—to define how a team works best together. They will guide team members on how to think and act in service of your Purpose and Vision. They are the filters through which all decisions should be considered and a compass that points the way on all actions. They should not be crafted for financial gain or short-term expediency.
Those who try to help others feel secure and successful also receive the benefits of oxytocin and serotonin. The positive feelings they experience assist them in continuing their efforts to support others. This energy is natural. And it’s generative. This is how collaboration and teamwork make sustainable success possible.
When our principles are violated, we feel the effects of adrenaline, dopamine, and cortisol—stress hormones that may lead to feelings of frustration, sadness, anger, isolation, jealousy, etc. These feelings are primal and de-energizing. The long-term effects of too much adrenaline and cortisol can shorten life spans. At the very least, when our principles are violated, the negative feeling hinders our capacity to address the task at hand. Over time, anyone experiencing these feelings can negatively impact the team’s potential. In the extreme, the frustration of having one’s principle regularly violated can lead to the team breaking apart.
Leadership’s job is to do everything possible to ensure that Guiding Principles are reinforced and honored so that team members feel safe and secure, and positioned for peak performance. The reward for creating this alignment that creates a natural flow goes beyond the financial impact. It becomes life sustaining.