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December 2015 edition

Follow the leader

First, imagine that a Sabre tooth tiger is about to pounce on you. Second, imagine your boss tells you that you haven’t met your KPIs and you have just two weeks to shape up – or else. There’s an important connection here, says learning and development expert Paul Matthews. “Both events trigger the same areas of the brain, flooding the system with cortisol. The second event is just as big a threat as the first event.”

The difference, however, is also important: In the first case, if you didn’t get eaten then you escaped and were unlikely to meet another such situation that day, so the cortisol flushed out of the system, which returned to normal. “But in the working environment, of course, the stress response keeps kicking in all the time. There is that ‘perceived threat’ on a regular basis in many jobs; the cortisol keeps running around the system at a high level and that leads to health issues.”

Mr Matthews, managing director of People Alchemy, says much of that stress in the workplace can be down to management/leadership style and also to the stress levels being experienced by the leaders themselves. “Cortisol can be passed through the skin to someone else. So if the leader is all stressed up, it affects the whole team.” Passing on the sense of danger was helpful when hunting thousands of years ago – but the evolutionary advantage is no longer in place, and the result is therefore ‘group stress’, he warns.

In this article for Port Strategy Magazine Felicity Landon, Journalist, asks what makes a good boss and how that applies to the ports sector.

Read the full article here