Burnout to Leadership

Ep#9 Connection and Interconnectedness

November 19, 2021 Dex Randall Season 1 Episode 9
Burnout to Leadership
Ep#9 Connection and Interconnectedness
Show Notes Transcript

- Why going it alone in burnout doesn't work.
- How to crowdsource ever more success.
- Leadership and teamwork.
- The many upsides of connection-building in your career.

Hi, everyone, my name is Dex Randall, and this is the Burnout to Leadership Podcast, where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work. Hello, my friend, how are you today? What we're gonna get into today is connections and interconnectedness, because basically, we live or die based not on our spectacular work ethic, our high standards, our superior skills, but rather on the value of our connections, whether we like that or not, whether we're lone rangers or not. And I onboarded a new client yesterday and he was talking about his own work, his own team. It was very high functioning, very enjoyable to work with. But the other manager's teams, not so much. He wanted to be able to pick up all the other managers' dropped balls and fix everything for them. Because when we're used to being a fixer, we task ourselves to fix every problem, handle everything, not just our own business. We develop this kind of razor sharp mind, very focused on making everything right. But sometimes, that doesn't make it easy to work with, eh, because we're placing very high demands on others according to our own standards, and it can come across as a little bit arrogant. And that's how people told me I was early on in my career, and I was horrified. But to be honest, in my case,

they were right:

I was demanding, I was impatient, and I did think I had all the answers. I had a mind like a steel trap, according to me, and frankly, I wish they would all try and keep up with me. It's very embarrassing to say that to you now, but, you know, that's how it was back then, I thought I was brilliant. And I'm sure it was very painful for other people who could never meet my standards, mostly because they didn't want to. They had a whole different set of standards of their own, a whole other agenda. But don't worry, 'cause nature really had the last laugh on me when I hit burnout. It really wasn't pretty; it was a big and a very comprehensive crash. So, if I had it coming, I got it. And I think you know, in chronic stress, in chronic fight or flight, the thinking mind basically gets turned off in favor of survival. It gets a lot less air time in sympathetic nervous system mode. Well, mine, in the end, got so little air time that it went a bit rusty, and over time, such a mind lose its cognitive function, it loses its sharpness. Hmm, watch out for that one. Anyhow. Back to the client, this client was really bothered that the weak point in the system was other people. So, so interesting, right, the need to control others. And I do talk about this a little bit in episode six on being out of control and trust, very thematic aspects of burnout. So clearly, there's a floor in thinking we're the only person who can solve problems.

That kind of thinking comes from our professional identity:

"I need to be right," in other words, our ego. And it's very, very painful. It quite often harks back, if you think about it, to the way we were brought up to be independently capable. It probably seemed like perfect live training to our parents, to make us invincible, able to take care of ourselves in all weathers, but kind of backfires a bit later in life, because no man is an island. So we've depended for career success until now on our view of ourselves as being able to overcome all hurdles. It seemed useful, helpful, and it really worked. But when we look a little bit more deeply into how we really created our success, it wasn't that. We were often powerfully charismatic, with an eloquent, persuasive

communication style, but here's the hint:

We do also possess people skills. Because the most accomplished individual can never outperform a team. And coming back to our animal nature, as animals, connection is a survival skill. Herds survive better than individuals for herd animals. So, as those animals, our nervous systems are in fact programmed to communicate below the level of our consciousness with one another. We depend neurologically on the people around us for our sense of safety. We have a co regulatory nervous system. If we're around people who feel safe, it contributes to our own feeling of safety; and vice versa, if we're around people who feel danger, then it contributes to our sense of danger. Survival instincts. And to Bonnie Badenoch from her book, The Heart of Trauma, "Emotional regulation flows naturally from being in the presence of someone we trust." I think that it's a quite signal to those of us in burnout because there has been an erosion of trust. But anyway, neuroscientifically, this is because our nervous systems work with interoception, which is our internal sensory system, where the internal physical and emotional states of the body are noticed, recognized, identified, and responded to, and with neuroception, which is the subconscious process of scanning our environment, like use of safety or danger. That's an idea coming from Dr. Stephen Porges. Anyway, Shawn Achor, the Harvard happiness researcher, says in his book, Big Potential, "In a world that thrives on competition and individual, achievement, we're measuring and pursuing potential all wrong by pursuing success in isolation, pushing others away as we push ourselves too hard. We're really just limiting our potential, we're becoming more stressed and more disconnected than ever." In his highly anticipated follow up to The Happiness Advantage, Achor reveals a better approach drawing on his work in 50 countries. He shows the success and happiness or not competitive sports, rather, they depend almost entirely on how well we can connect with, relate to, and learn from each other. Just as happiness is contagious and safety is, to an extent, contagious, every dimension of human potential, performance, intelligence, creativity, leadership, ability, and health, is influenced by those around us. So, when we help other people become better, we ourselves reach new levels of potential. Rather than fighting over scraps of the pie, we can expand the pie. So, I do read a little bit of research, as you can tell, 'cause I've just come up with a few little things there, but here's another bunch of upsides of connection, I'm just gonna run through a few that come into my mind. First one is, no one loves a perfectionist, a smartass, a know it all, because we know that perfection is a sham, it's unattainable. So, giving up being the best and asking others for help turns out to be more fun, and it fosters authentic teamwork, it gives everybody permission to be themselves without fear of rejection. Number two, Brene Brown's a terrific advocate of all this, a huge ambassador of clean and powerful team communication. It's all about honesty, no back channelling, no gossiping, and no shaming. Number three, then there's the innate human willingness to connect and help others, forging bonds of trust and loyalty. Number four, people tend to develop new skills and flourish much more when they are trusted to find their own answers rather than being handed an answer. Number five, and then when we connect, it encourages us to reframe our thoughts of lack of belonging and social anxiety, it reduces our self doubt. Number six, self correction is really a wonderful thing, but we've all got blind spots, usually based on old beliefs that we've never really questioned about things we don't even notice. We don't know what we don't know. So, peer review and peer correction really helps us straighten out all of those kinks and those blind spots, and it's a very powerful way to uplift quality. Number seven. Dr. Joe Dispenza's research shows us that there's a thing called coherence in groups. When we spend time together with others, our hearts and brains develop a group coherence pattern that we all tune into. And coherence is very, very healthy for our biology. It has a smoothing effect, or maybe a soothing effect, a regulatory function, which I think over as kind of ironing out physical stresses across the systems in the body. And when we come into coherence, we're therefore much more relaxed, much more tuned in to ourselves and to one another, higher performing. Number eight, working alone incubates self doubt, negative self, lack of self belief, and also this lack of positive reinforcement of ourselves. So, being alone from that perspective is self limiting on performance. Number nine, when we act alone amongst other people, we might have an increased sense of isolation, and we might then subtly desire to be accepted back into the herd. We might then start subscribing to group think in order to belong, and really, that group think brings us to the lowest common denominator, it's very fear based thinking, and it lowers the quality of our decision making. Well, number 10, we might start people pleasing also, not a very winning strategy when you really inspect it closely. I'm gonna do a separate podcast episode on people pleasing later, and go into the details of that, so I won't do it here. Number 11, Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great, about how the most successful companies rise to the top and stay at the top, frame the concept of level five leadership. Well, leaders are ambitious, but for the organization and team, not for themselves. It's kind of an altruistic style of leadership, and such leaders include the top 11 in Jim's study of good to great companies. So nothing to be sniffed at. I would encourage you to read the book, actually, which is really, really excellent. All the books I mentioned in this podcast are ones that I love, and I would recommend. So, leaders who embody that kind of group ambition, they encourage radical honesty, which sometimes we can think of as speaking truth to power, everybody has a voice. And they also embody humility, accepting blame onto themselves, and deflecting praise on to others. If you're a lone ranger, if you're emotionally disengaged from your workmates, this is probably not how you're running. Just a hunch I'm getting there. It certainly wouldn't have described me, I wouldn't have invited that kind of leadership when I was in burnout at all. But here's my experience

with my clients:

Now, my clients are actually this type of leader underneath the stress. The only thing is they can't manifest that style of leadership whilst they're in burnout. It's a temporary problem; it's immanently fixable, when people come out of burnout, they naturally grow into this level five leadership style. Number 12, of course, I will also mention the power of coaching and mentorship, standing on the shoulders of giants. If you study high profile, high achievement leaders, chances are they have at least one mentor and/or coach. And I'm thinking Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, some people like that are springing to mind. Getting all the help you can makes sense, it really multiplies your success. I mean, of this, really, about connection and interconnectedness is about crowd sourcing success, instead of trying to go it alone. So, okay, that was 12 things. Quite a long list there. Once I got started thinking about the upsides of the connection, it kinda ran away with me. And I'm sure you have many more ideas yourself that you can contribute, but I mean, secretly, we all know it makes sense to have teamwork, don't we? It's just that in burnout, we've hidden in the bunker, and that's become habitual for us, to remain withdrawn. And that's 'cause we're a little bit scared usually about our performance not being where we want it to be, never mind what anyone else thinks. So, if it sounds like I'm making a powerful case for connection, sure, I'm trying, and you know, partly, this is a note to self. It wasn't the easiest, easiest thing for me to embody. I love team building, it's one of my favorite things, getting a diverse bunch of people working together, like a well oiled machine, is really my thing, super my thing. But it did not come naturally to me. I had the instinct, but I was also very hidden away. I had to learn and practice the actual behaviors and habits over time. But now, it is one of my greatest joys. And partly the reason I wasn't so good at it, or maybe chicken and egg, not quite sure which way around, my background is in IT, so I was, I felt that I was, born and bred to work alone in a cellar. But anyhow. Those of us who are introverts, shy, lack confidence, or any other kind of withdrawal tendencies, this is even more pertinent. We are all capable of a wondrous connection with others, and it's tremendously rewarding when you live up to that potential, live into that way of being. In my opinion, it way outstrips the joy of personal success. And when people come and work with me, when clients come and work with me, we focus a lot on developing stronger connections and also enjoying people more. And that's at work and at home, you're just one person wherever you are, and I'm gonna be talking, no doubt, a lot about how to up level your connections in upcoming episodes of the podcast. It's so important to reversing burnout, and also to having fun and being passionate and enjoying yourself at work again. Yeah, I did say fun. And if you want in, keep listening to future episodes. So, I know that was a bit of a manifesto right there. When I do get started, watch out, but if you're in burnout, locking yourself away in a garret, then unlocking connection could be your next power play. The human race is still out there waiting to embrace you back into the fold. And that's what I have for you today. Thank you so much for listening, always appreciate you being here. You can visit my website at dexrandall.com for the show notes, and please do subscribe and rate this podcast. Thank you much. If you're in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout to Leadership program. You can look in to talk with me at burnout.dexrandall.com. Just tell me what's bugging you, and let's make a plan to fix it.