5 Ways Leaders Can Create and Nourish a Thriving Culture

The greatest leader’s have come from an intentional work environment that was built with their growth and success in mind. The greatest leaders also create those same environments for their team. When we explore the significance of creating intentional and safe environments for leaders and team players to thrive, it comes down to the neuroscience of those choices and the impact those choices have on others’ well being. Now, how does a leader work to not only create a culture of greatness but nourish it?

The following is a short list inspired by the work I’ve been doing with my executive clients to teach them how to accomplish it and by following these concepts, you can be well on your way too. Let’s dive in, shall we.


#1 — Engage Without Judgement

When you engage individuals without judgement, it opens people up and builds trust. When that trust is built, it creates space for individuals to feel a sense of freedom to become more vulnerable. In order to engage without judgement, a great mindset to approach conversations with is to listen with curiosity. Be sure to listen to connect with each person, sending signals of interest and trust by using genuine curiosity. Set aside your judgements, connect and meet them where they are at. This releases calming hormones to open up neural networks that encourage more innovation.  Great leaders listen to connect to foster that relationship and connection.


#2 — Accept Who They Are and Embrace Individuality

It is a common oversight to speak and engage with team members as if they are just that, a group of people. It is important to remember that everyone is unique, with their own background, experiences and perspectives in the world. A good place to start is with yourself. If you are able to accept yourself and embrace your individuality, you will lead by example and be able to accept others for their respective diversity and individuality. By staying mindful of this, a gift of acceptance and belonging is created across the entire organization that others will emulate and ultimately thrive in.


#3 — Leadership and Teamwork Relying on Trust, Not Power and Authority

Trust activates the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This area of the brain is also responsible for innovation, love, openness and passion. When you lead or work with teams in a collaborative way that is focused on trust- a safe environment is created allowing others around you to thrive. However, authority and power shut down that same area of the brain, essentially shutting people down and with that the ability to be innovative, creative and with positive energy.


#4 — Leverage Appreciation and Minimize Criticism

When a person is criticised, the body produces cortisol and shuts down the area of the brain responsible for thinking. Our body’s then go into fight or flight mode. An example of this is the “annual review” within workplaces. Stress levels go up when a person is being criticized. A way to combat this is to (in every situation) leverage appreciation and minimize criticism. When a person is shown appreciation, it produces oxytocin, which increases communication and happy feelings that make people feel safe. A rule of thumb should always be to increase appreciation (oxytocin) and decrease criticism (cortisol).


#5 — Involve, Don’t Push Them into a Decision

Even with the best intentions, our communication methods can create stress for another person if we are not mindful of involving them in the decision making process. An example would be telling a person they should be or would be a great leader and pushing them toward that without involving them in the decision or asking how they feel about it. Without that consideration, it can activate stress hormones, making a person feel like their autonomy is being taken away from them. As a leader, you should instead involve that person, engage and ask about their experiences, beliefs, values and involve them with a development plan to get them where they want to be and where the organization wants them to progress to. By discussing those things out thoroughly with team members and having check in’s to make sure they are feeling confident, autonomous and happy about the path forward, it creates an environment built on collaboration, trust and empowerment.

The human brain is a social brain, therefore it needs connection to feel safe. Without knowing it, every person is subconsciously scanning for “friend or foe” so as a leader it is important to work with human nature, be mindful of your approach and always create an environment of safety and inclusion, which in turn creates an atmosphere of greatness for everyone to thrive within.



Jackie Lauer is an innovative change agent and executive coach that brings the science of happiness and neuroscience to all her transformational engagements. An expert in Emotional Intelligence, Change Management, Relationship Systems Coaching and Mediation she brings the application of neuroscience to business challenges, and coaches CEOs and their teams how to elevate and accelerate the levels of engagement, collaboration and innovation to positively impact the bottom line and create thriving lifes and workplace cultures.


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