Tyler trudges into the office, worrying about the disgruntled team he leads. He works hard at being a good leader, and his team likes him a bunch, but there’s too much negative influence out of his control. Upper management keeps changing technologies, priorities and staffing levels, all of which challenge his team’s sense of mastery and security, and at the same time changes in leadership are adding uncertainty to the organization’s direction and future. All of this keeps his team feeling resentful and anxious. It zaps their energy and wreaks havoc with their performance. Tyler’s being told by his boss that the best remedy is to continuously explain the business case for the changes and assure his team that the company’s moving in the right direction. But it’s not working. His team is feeling fear of the unknown, and he’s finding it difficult to quell their fear with logical explanations.
Tyler decides to try a more direct approach. For years in his personal life, he’s been using a stress reduction technique that helps him transform fear-based emotions, and he decides to teach it to the team. It’s a technique for self-managing emotions and has three basic steps:
1) Stop – put a halt to current thought processes, letting go of whatever’s streaming through your mind at the moment.
2) Breathe – focus on the area around your heart and imagine breathing into your heart, for about 10 to 15 seconds. If your thoughts wander off, bring them back to focus on your heart.
3) Activate – conjure up a positive feeling, not just visualizing or thinking it, but rather feeling it with your entire body. Genuine heartfelt emotion is best, so remember the love or appreciation you feel for someone whom it’s easy for you to love.
Tyler leads a daily session where the team uses this practice in unison, usually lasting a few minutes. He also encourages the team to add music, somewhere between stimulating and peaceful, which they play from their iPods. The team has a few favorites that they really like.
The technique is not so different from meditation or mindfulness techniques that some team members already use, except that many meditation techniques stay centered in the head and don’t activate heartfelt emotion. Activating the heart is key to boosting energy because it generates a heart rhythmic pattern that balances and rejuvenates the nervous, immune and hormonal systems.
How effective is this technique in enhancing the energy in a team? Researchers have measured significant reductions in burnout and fatigue, as well as increases in contentment and vitality across diverse populations that regularly use this technique. It has been found to broaden the scope of perception and cognition, thus enhancing faculties such as creativity, intuition, and resilience. In addition, individuals frequently report experiencing a notable increase in internal feelings of inner peace and security.
Tyler soon finds that this practice is helping the team manage their fears and access an innate self-confidence, and he’s overjoyed as he feels a positive vitality building in the team. He realizes he can’t always convince his team that what’s happening in the company is good, and he certainly can’t make guarantees of a positive future, but he can help his team strengthen their innate sense of well-being and build confidence that they can handle whatever comes their way.
As we learn more from neuroscience about the incredible power of group emotions, we see reasons to adopt techniques beyond the ordinary. For more on shaping team emotions to increase creativity and performance, including research references, get notified of the upcoming book Primal Teams: Harnessing the Incredible Power of Group Energy or sign up for a monthly summary of articles.Share