Dr Amanda Potter on setting people and companies up for success

What does it mean to create an environment for success at a company?  

How do companies often get it wrong?

What happens and what does that look like? 

Psychological safety is a key ingredient for businesses and teams to be able to improve, innovate and progress.

People need to feel free to speak honestly and feel supported enough to come up with new ideas; without that freedom, new innovative solutions and problem solving is less likely to happen. 

And that is exactly what we’re going to be talking about today.

Dr Amanda Potter is an award-winning Chartered Psychologist, Leadership/ Executive Coach and a Certified Principal Business Psychologist with over 25 years' experience.

She has been working with C-suite and senior executives to enable them to drive strategic success – and today she shares her stories and knowledge of working in the area of talent strategy. We hear about her experience which is rooted in leadership in crisis, resilience, Psychological Safety and belonging.

Amanda will tell us about the neuroscience of resilience and positivity and how that impacts cultures at organisations.  

She'll let us in on some tips on how we can all just simply feel better.

And she tells us about the contributors to low psych safety, the watch outs, and what different types of organisations need to look out for.

I ask her for insights on the difference in the various cultures that her company works with, but also the difference between sectors. Amanda’s reflection on psych safety in a culture like the police force is really interesting. 

She then leaves us with some top tips on what to do to create more connection between team members – and you'll even get a great exercise that you can use for future team events.

Many of us know the importance of creating connection, trust and safe spaces to work – but knowing this is one thing. Being able to do it is another.

If you’re keen to dig deeper on all of this, please join me for this fascinating conversation with Amanda. So grab that favourite beverage or throw on those running shoes, and here is Dr Amanda Potter. 

Please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

If you would like to pre-order my book Return on Humanity: Leadership lessons from all corners of the earth, you can do that here.

If you would like to listen to the Chief Psychology Officer Podcast by Dr Amanda Potter, you can listen here.

00:00:03:15 – 00:00:32:07
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we expose new perspectives on our ever evolving world through the lenses of various industries, cultures and backgrounds. Our guests are disruptors united by a common goal to bring their purpose to life, whether they’re from the commercial world or third sector, from the Global North or the Global South. Expect an inspirational journey that will transform your perspective on just what is possible.

00:00:32:18 – 00:00:38:13
Philippa White
My name is Philippa White and welcome to TIE Unearthed.

00:00:40:14 – 00:01:09:00
Philippa White
Psychological safety is a key ingredient for businesses and teams to be able to improve, innovate and progress. People need to feel free to speak honestly and feel supported enough to come up with new ideas. Without that freedom, new innovative solutions and problem solving is less likely to happen. Well, knowing this is one thing, but being able to do it and then making that something tangible within a company is another.

00:01:09:16 – 00:01:45:18
Philippa White
It requires leaders to have the communication skills that go beyond simply hearing words that another person speaks, but to also seek understanding and to have the ability to share the feelings of others whilst also being vulnerable. None of this is easy, but by mastering this art, it’s possible to unlock new thinking and knowledge. As leaders, we need to find ways to break down barriers, to create safe spaces, to talk and find ways to connect people around a company, to develop trust and belonging.

00:01:46:11 – 00:02:16:04
Philippa White
Now I talk about this in my book, Return on Humanity, which is coming out in April and developing these human assets, is also what we focus on with all of our type programs. But today I wanted to dig deeper, and so I’m really looking forward to sharing this conversation that I recently had with Dr. Amanda Potter. She’s an award winning chartered psychologist, a leadership and executive coach, and a certified principal business psychologist with over 25 years experience.

00:02:16:21 – 00:02:43:05
Philippa White
Amanda has been working with C-suite and senior executives to enable them to drive strategic success. And today, she shares her stories and knowledge of working in the area of talent strategy. We hear about her experience, which is rooted in leadership, in crisis, resilience, psychological safety and belonging. So throw on those running shoes or grab that favorite beverage. And here is Amanda.

00:02:45:06 – 00:02:50:00
Philippa White
Amanda, thank you so much for joining us on TIE Unearthed today. Thank you.

00:02:50:01 – 00:02:51:23
Dr Amanda Potter
I love it. Thank you so much for inviting me.

00:02:51:24 – 00:03:01:01
Philippa White
Because I talk to people literally from all corners of the world. It’s always nice to know just where people are. So where are you sitting at the moment?

00:03:01:02 – 00:03:19:09
Dr Amanda Potter
I am sitting in my garden office as we closed our office a few years ago due to COVID. So I actually live in the North Downs, so south of London, growth of Gatwick. I was in the countryside, but still inside, crazily still inside the M25. So only a few minutes into London on the train, which is bananas.

00:03:19:19 – 00:03:23:10
Philippa White
Perfect. It looks like a nice day. I can see it is. Is it sunny?

00:03:23:10 – 00:03:26:21
Dr Amanda Potter
It’s sunny. It’s the end of October. Sunny.

00:03:27:06 – 00:03:33:06
Philippa White
Yeah, very green. It’s looking very, very green, which is wonderful. Even in office. It is. It is.

00:03:33:16 – 00:03:34:17
Dr Amanda Potter
And it’s beautiful area.

00:03:34:20 – 00:03:52:11
Philippa White
So, Amanda, tell us your story. I always like to get a bit of a background to people before they are sort of the perfection that they are or the leader that they are or whatever it is they’re doing. It’s really just nice to know the human behind the grandiose position that the person holds. So yeah. Tell us your story and just a little bit about you.

00:03:52:11 – 00:04:16:19
Dr Amanda Potter
I always wanted to be a psychologist, which is amazing. From the age of 12 or 13, I realized that I was really fascinated by assessment, by questionnaires, by surveys and so on. So it started with me watching Dracula on. Oh, wow. It’s obviously it’s crazy movie story, which is I was watching a black and white Dracula movie and the next day we had like a crazy conversation at schools.

00:04:16:19 – 00:04:31:00
Dr Amanda Potter
It might be 13, 14, actually. And they said to me, Well, what do you want to do? And I said, Well, I watched a movie last night, Dracula, and he went to see a therapist or a psychiatrist. Quite like to be a psychiatrist because I think I can talk to people. And my teacher said, Do you mean psychologists?

00:04:31:00 – 00:04:53:19
Dr Amanda Potter
And I thought, Yeah, yeah, I think I mean psychologist. So that became the start of it. And now, of course, 23 years of work on having done psychology for 30 years, three degrees, Ph.D. I went all the way with psychology, so I absolutely love it. And so and in fact, the thing that I thought I was going to enjoy back then, which was around assessment and design, is what brings me real joy.

00:04:53:19 – 00:05:13:23
Dr Amanda Potter
So to answer your question a bit better, actually a little bit about me is that I’m the CEO of Zircon, which is a consulting business with 23 years old, and we operate around the world in the areas of talent assessment development. And we I also with my colleagues have built a platform and a suite of tools under the brand to be talent.

00:05:13:23 – 00:05:27:01
Dr Amanda Potter
And so they’re all research led diagnostic tools that assess areas like resilience, psychological safety, decision making. And we use those tools for coaching, for facilitation and for executive assessments. Luckily, I still love what I do.

00:05:27:01 – 00:05:45:01
Philippa White
Yeah, it’s privilege, isn’t it? It’s really good. It is. So. Well, I mean, I was going to ask you what the catalyst is to what you’re doing now, but I think what would be really interesting is, you know, obviously you watched the Dracula movie and the conversation had the conversation with, you know, the school careers counselor, but there was obviously a trajectory there.

00:05:45:01 – 00:06:04:02
Philippa White
So you did your degrees and how did you go from being a student? And obviously, I think many times when people go all the way to a Ph.D. and all these kind of things, you sort of wonder if you should be in the world of academia or, you know, how did you make that move? You know, being the CEO of a company which is, you know, a lot of different skills, right?

00:06:04:12 – 00:06:05:10
Philippa White
Yeah. Yeah.

00:06:06:01 – 00:06:24:06
Dr Amanda Potter
This is my second business. So I did run another business with a colleague in my twenties. So I started quite early because I while I was doing my masters, I realized there was an opportunity to go out and earn money in a different way than just getting a job. So I became an associate for consulting firms, and then started having my own clients.

00:06:24:16 – 00:06:43:00
Dr Amanda Potter
But I realized quite quickly that I didn’t really know enough about industry, I didn’t know what questions to ask. And so I went work for a big corporate, global corporate for three years, which was a brilliant experience. I didn’t feel a tool psychologically safe in the organization. It was very ambitious, very competitive, and generally I learned so much.

00:06:43:04 – 00:07:15:07
Dr Amanda Potter
I learned about line management. I learned about the importance of culture and climate, and also I learned how to manage large contracts. So it was a brilliant experience for me, but it was incredibly competitive. It was American organization, very competitive, very dynamic, incredible people in the business. I felt like I needed something different. And so Zircon happened in 2000, and this is just been a joy to run because I run it with incredibly bright, talented, committed team of colleagues who love what they do.

00:07:15:07 – 00:07:20:18
Dr Amanda Potter
So I’m very, very fortunate I should finish that with I run it with my best friend who I went to college with.

00:07:20:19 – 00:07:21:21
Philippa White
Also a psychology.

00:07:22:02 – 00:07:29:16
Dr Amanda Potter
Now she did business and law and she’s the CEO. And so she brings a very different perspective and ask the questions that I don’t even think of asking.

00:07:30:01 – 00:07:50:16
Philippa White
Which is what you want, right? Yep. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s interesting. Just before we really dove into psychological safety and the importance of that and just listening to your experience of working in a place that didn’t have that and that, you know, fierce competition and not really sure where you stand because I did a business degree in in my book, Return on Humanity, which I will be publishing in April.

00:07:50:16 – 00:08:15:05
Philippa White
But I start one of the sections just drawing on my experience at business school. And before I did business school, I also I did a couple of years. I grew up in Canada, I was born in South Africa. I lived all over the place. But anyway, I grew up in Canada. My accent’s Canadian and I grew up in Winnipeg and the license plates of the different provinces around Canada kind of sum up that province.

00:08:15:16 – 00:08:37:11
Philippa White
And the license plate of Manitoba, Winnipeg is part of Manitoba, is friendly Manitoba and it is a very friendly province. And it’s, you know, it’s rooted in connection. And the university there was amazing. But then I went to business school after that and I went to a business school in Ontario and it’s considered the best business school in Canada.

00:08:37:11 – 00:08:55:01
Philippa White
And it’s very competitive and it’s, you know, you’re marked on a bell curve. And when I was at my other university in Winnipeg, I remember sitting beside a buddy and we would be writing notes and, you know, we’d share notes with each other. And it was a very friendly environment where you each of you wanted to do well and you wanted to help the other person do well.

00:08:55:11 – 00:09:25:16
Philippa White
Whereas in the environment, this business school, which again marked on a bell curve, chanting, the main goal of business is to make money and, you know, a very different environment. And I remember sitting beside a buddy and I never even occurred to me that you wouldn’t just share information. And I got lost when the professor was talking at this business school, we were working on computers, and so I was typing, but I’d lost my way and just falling back to my time at university in Winnipeg.

00:09:26:05 – 00:09:48:08
Philippa White
I just looked at her and I said, I’m sorry. I missed what he said. What can I just see her notes? And she turned her computer in a way that I couldn’t see any more of her notes. And this wasn’t an exam. This was like a normal class where you’re sharing information, not friendly. And I looked at that situation, I thought, Wow, okay, I’m clearly not in Winnipeg anymore.

00:09:48:14 – 00:09:59:23
Philippa White
Yeah, so and it’s just it’s amazing, isn’t it, how when it’s that kind of an environment and suddenly you don’t feel safe and you don’t know who your friends are, suddenly it’s a very different situation, isn’t it, to be working in?

00:09:59:24 – 00:10:03:00
Dr Amanda Potter
How did that impact how you felt and be behaved?

00:10:03:00 – 00:10:25:20
Philippa White
Well, exactly. So I didn’t I hated it. I hated that business school. I hated my entire time there. I was there for a year and a half. And then we were lucky to do exchanges. And so I ended up going on exchange to Bangkok, Thailand, which was without question, a catalyst to what I’m doing now, for sure. You know, there were a handful of people that I really resonated with and I really enjoyed working with and felt a connection to.

00:10:25:20 – 00:10:44:16
Philippa White
But I certainly didn’t feel like I could thrive in that environment and I didn’t feel as though I could be my best in that environment. And I didn’t feel like people were getting the best out of me in that environment. I just felt judged and I felt like I was constantly looking over my shoulder. It made me reflect on, Is this what business is?

00:10:44:16 – 00:10:48:04
Philippa White
I mean, is this what we think businesses and companies do?

00:10:48:06 – 00:10:55:19
Dr Amanda Potter
And that environment, that environment to thrive is so critical. I mean, that’s exactly what we’re here to talk about, isn’t it, around psychological safety and.

00:10:55:21 – 00:10:56:08
Philippa White
Certainly.

00:10:56:08 – 00:11:19:13
Dr Amanda Potter
Cognitive diversity, inclusion and all the work that we’re doing now is so brilliant in really pinpointing some of the things that we really need to focus on and think about when we’re talking about creating the environment for success. But so often we get it wrong because we driving individual motivation and trying to individually succeed that we kind of forget actually all of us is in this together.

00:11:19:15 – 00:11:21:18
Dr Amanda Potter
So if you look at that story.

00:11:22:01 – 00:11:32:19
Philippa White
Yeah, well, I know, and that’s how I that’s actually how I started the second section of my book. They bring out these stories, but before we start really diving into the nitty gritty, but tell me, you know, what gets you excited every day?

00:11:32:19 – 00:11:53:02
Dr Amanda Potter
I would say it’s the research. So because I’m definitely a research scientist and I do lead with being a psychologist, the thing that I get really excited about now is because I’ve now done this for 30 years and because I’m in the position I’m in, I get the freedom to go and do research and to pursue the topics that really interest me.

00:11:53:10 – 00:12:23:13
Dr Amanda Potter
And so over the last few years I’ve got excited about and therefore conducted in-depth research with the team on topics like psych safety, resilience, inspirational leadership, burnout and accountability and so on. And so as a result of those things, I get to really understand the concepts. I start to think about how could we build models around it, build tools, diagnostics, and then help our clients unpick some of the problems that they’re facing in those organizations?

00:12:23:22 – 00:12:38:12
Dr Amanda Potter
And how does the psychology really help them? And so I suppose I try and do the research and then make it really accessible to our clients. That’s the thing that excites me the most when they have that aha moment. And I’ve shared neuroscience, the resilience and oh my God, oh.

00:12:38:12 – 00:12:38:20
Philippa White
My God.

00:12:38:23 – 00:12:44:13
Dr Amanda Potter
If I change a few things on a daily basis, I will feel better. So just really simple stuff.

00:12:44:13 – 00:12:53:13
Philippa White
Yeah, fantastic. And it’s interesting, isn’t it, how that resilience and I mean it’s so rooted in self-awareness and fulfillment, isn’t it.

00:12:53:13 – 00:13:14:24
Dr Amanda Potter
Oh my gosh. Well, I mean, I’ve literally just recorded and I’ve just reviewed a podcast on the neuroscience of resilience. And it’s incredible that just the small steps and actions that we take on a daily basis can help with the release of the positive neurotransmitters and your modulators. And the more we can access them and release them, the the better we will feel.

00:13:14:24 – 00:13:34:12
Dr Amanda Potter
And therefore, the dialog we have inside our heads is more positive. And so therefore we’re more likely to experience positive affect positive emotions than negative. If, however, I get up, I look at my blue screen first thing, I have a cup of tea and have a sit down. I white toast. I do all the things wrong that I shouldn’t do.

00:13:34:13 – 00:13:59:13
Dr Amanda Potter
I don’t look at sunlight. I don’t go for the dog walk. Then what I’m going to do is I’m going to access different the wrong transmitters and I’m not going to release dopamine, serotonin and all the things that make me feel good and motivate me to do more of those good things. Yeah. So it’s incredible actually how the physiology, the the brain science and the psychology are also massively connected is so awesome.

00:13:59:13 – 00:14:04:08
Philippa White
What are you doing now and how do you do it and what what is working?

00:14:04:08 – 00:14:35:10
Dr Amanda Potter
So I think my role particularly really in the organization is to disrupt and to challenge thinking. So my role as a podcaster, because we’ve got the psychology of the podcast, is to really explore a topic, for example, resilience and the neuroscience of resilience. Look at all the research, look at the science and then have an opinion. And I use that research and the podcast to then go and run the workshops and to facilitate events for clients and speak at conferences, because having that opinion is really useful for clients.

00:14:35:10 – 00:14:55:10
Dr Amanda Potter
So I don’t I’m not going to sit on the fence and just say, well, all these different researchers suggest all these different things about resilience, and you could do this. You could do that. Actually, I want to go to clients and say very clearly, if you want to improve the resilience of your workforce, these are some of the things you actually need to change in the way in which you lead and manage teams.

00:14:55:10 – 00:15:17:07
Dr Amanda Potter
And the reason for doing that is that scientifically we’ve proven that resilient leaders, for example, create psychologically safe environments. Because if you go into work with a positive mindset, positive language, positive affect, you’re going to create an environment where people are more likely to ask questions, to challenge, to speak up, and therefore we’re creating the basis of trust and purpose and safety.

00:15:17:07 – 00:15:55:13
Dr Amanda Potter
But fascinatingly, resilient people are also more likely to be decisive. And if we’re low on resilience and we experience negative affect, what happens is we’re more likely to procrastinate. And procrastination undermines like safety because it creates groupthink, consensus driven culture. And so all of that science, you know, we’ve got lovely proof, evidence, stats, significant data to show that if we can focus on really fundamentals about the individual when they’re mental health and their wellbeing has an impact on organizational and business success impacts that my climate, the environment, team success and so many things.

00:15:55:13 – 00:16:04:09
Dr Amanda Potter
So that’s what I like doing is coming to an organization with some data with evidence and really challenging their thinking. So that’s what excites me the most.

00:16:04:17 – 00:16:41:10
Philippa White
Right? In my book, Return on Humanity, I talk a lot about the importance of leaders of workplaces being more human, obviously. So yeah, I reflect on the fact that capital ism has kind of lost that human component along the way. And I talk about the importance of psychological safety in the workplace and and how it’s a matter of going back to basics and, and human connection is what’s necessary in creating that human connection between individuals that they feel safe to talk about, what they’re excited about or what they’re not excited about or or what’s bothering them or things, you know, that they see.

00:16:41:10 – 00:17:09:12
Philippa White
And to provide people with a voice and that connection between the leaders and the other people on the team. And we need it on teams where leaders see the importance of understanding what’s alive and real for people. So taking the time to really sit down and hear from them. And then when we look at the current economy where people are worried about macro economy challenges and organizations are striving to keep their businesses being relevant and, you know, focusing on the balance sheet and keeping things going and and, you know, keeping employees employed.

00:17:09:21 – 00:17:30:17
Philippa White
But they also need this agility and they need disruption and they need resilience and they need people thinking differently and innovating. Right? Yeah. But businesses are sort of hunkering down and and people stop talking about things and they don’t interject because they’re worried about losing a job or they’re worried about what the other person’s going to say. But then the leaders need to like sort of this disconnect.

00:17:30:21 – 00:17:51:21
Philippa White
But the leaders need to spend time connecting with people and creating that safe space. And as a result, you know, people don’t feel engaged. They don’t feel committed. They don’t feel loyal, they feel scared. But then people need to be brave and courageous to be able to face what’s happening. You know, I’m just wondering, from a psychological safety point of view, is there a story?

00:17:51:21 – 00:18:13:12
Philippa White
Because I’ve seen you’re going into companies, you’re talking to different businesses, you’re on the front lines of these kind of conversations. And I just wonder what story stands out? Is there something that’s happened over the last year, or is there an example that you can provide of where this conversation has become very real for you and for your clients?

00:18:13:12 – 00:18:34:16
Dr Amanda Potter
For so many clients, this conversation is becoming real. Actually, I think I went into one organization recently where only a scatter of hands of 120 people in the room said they’d heard of psychological safety, and that was the rarity. Normally I’ll go into an organization these days and I’ll ask somebody, I last room. Have you heard of the concept of psychological safety before being invited to this event?

00:18:34:16 – 00:18:59:19
Dr Amanda Potter
And most people would say, Yes, I’ve heard about it. It’s a topic that most people are talking about. But the reason why those organizations are talking about psychological safety differs very often. And so one organization that we’ve been working with, they really struggle as an organization with a number of challenges around psychological safety, deference to leadership, consensus driven culture and a need to please.

00:18:59:19 – 00:19:23:21
Dr Amanda Potter
And so there are three aspects of low psych safety, and it comes from a position of the organization having a very long length of service. It’s a huge amounts of longevity as a result, homogeneity, low cognitive diversity. They also work with partners and their behavioral models are all driving and needs to please and collaboration and the need to agree with one another.

00:19:24:03 – 00:19:47:22
Dr Amanda Potter
They push very heavily culturally with agreement. They encourage employees to work positively, consistently coherent with one another. They don’t encourage employees to disrupt, to challenge, to question, to speak up, to say no. And actual safety is a real priority for this organization. And therefore, psychological safety needs to be. But that was it was a completely new concept to them.

00:19:47:22 – 00:20:11:19
Dr Amanda Potter
And we went and worked with them. And so their angle around psychological safety was one of an organization which is consensus driven and has a need to please, as I say, whereas another organization that we’ve worked with also having a challenge around psychological safety has incredible purpose as to as does this organization, which is a foundation of fire safety, but they have a fear of failure.

00:20:11:22 – 00:20:35:09
Dr Amanda Potter
So they so rapidly try and move away from failure that it means they don’t speak up and challenge your question again. So often the risk that’s apparent in any of those organizations is often quite different. But the solution or the vehicle to the solution of accountability and ownership of the problem is often the conversation around what is psychological safety, what are the risks and what are the opportunities.

00:20:35:09 – 00:20:45:03
Dr Amanda Potter
I love this topic. I love working with very different organizations because what we’re finding is each of those organizations do have different challenges that they’re not all the same.

00:20:45:04 – 00:20:50:00
Philippa White
Do you just work with companies in the UK or you said that it was global, so where else do you work?

00:20:50:00 – 00:21:11:22
Dr Amanda Potter
So we’re working with a global luxury brand around the world. So they’ve adopted our psychological safety inventory, our questionnaire, and they’re rolling it out. We’ve just translated into Japanese and French so far, and we’re rolling out. And so I think we’ve got a whole catalog of languages that we’re going to translate into so that we can roll out across each of the markets that they operate in.

00:21:11:22 – 00:21:15:02
Dr Amanda Potter
But they’re mainly in France. That’s their main that’s their head office.

00:21:15:03 – 00:21:23:19
Philippa White
The reason I ask is, do you see a difference between different cultures and ultimately. Yeah. Can you talk to us about that?

00:21:23:23 – 00:21:40:04
Dr Amanda Potter
Yeah. And I think you have to recognize that certain cultures say that deference to leadership, for example, is one of respect and recognition. And so their interpretation of some of our language around it is quite binary.

00:21:40:08 – 00:21:41:19
Philippa White
If you like. That’s natural.

00:21:41:19 – 00:21:59:01
Dr Amanda Potter
So there isn’t the nuance that we would have. It’s very black and white. And so, yes, there is significant difference, but also across industry as well. So if you think about the military, we’re working with a number of the police forces around psychological safety at the moment in the UK and one of the areas being deferred to leadership.

00:21:59:01 – 00:22:27:03
Dr Amanda Potter
There are times in a critical crisis situation you absolutely need to have a chain of command. But there are other situations if you think about the need to push back to challenge, to create an environment where people can speak up, actually psychological safety is truly key. So even when a strong chain of command and hierarchy like in the police, you still need to have an environment where people feel safe to speak up, to challenge, to ask questions and to make recommendations.

00:22:27:16 – 00:22:30:03
Philippa White
Gosh, and guidance. Finding that balance and knowing when.

00:22:30:06 – 00:22:53:15
Dr Amanda Potter
It is it is. And giving permission. Actually, the permission seeking is really important. And so our research is identified that there’s three foundations of site safety. They are trust, purpose and connection. To your point earlier about really having that human connection, we found the same thing, that personal connection. Knowing your colleagues as people, as humans, not as professionals.

00:22:53:19 – 00:23:01:05
Dr Amanda Potter
So important, having a few minute chat at the beginning of a meeting just about staff is so important to create trust.

00:23:01:05 – 00:23:23:20
Philippa White
It’s interesting, isn’t it, how COVID actually helped in a way with that, because suddenly we saw inside everyone’s houses and you suddenly saw like children coming up and you got to kind of, Oh my God, your people. And I think you have a life. You have a life, you know, and suddenly that that was something special and positive that came out of quite a crazy time.

00:23:23:23 – 00:23:45:13
Dr Amanda Potter
And in fact, I’ve got a little exercise for your listeners, actually, if they’re running team events or just running a meeting and they want to create that personal connection, one of the exercises we always launch are site safety events, which is if you knew me well, you’d know that. And so it’s an exercise where you and I would just share one thing about ourselves that the people who know us well.

00:23:45:15 – 00:23:48:20
Dr Amanda Potter
No, but our work colleagues might not know. Oh, no, it’s.

00:23:48:21 – 00:23:49:05
Philippa White
My.

00:23:49:15 – 00:24:14:13
Dr Amanda Potter
Way of getting a little bit of insight into our personal lives. And you share as much as you want to share. Clearly, yeah. Some people share really personal, really surprise things. I ran one with a rail company a few weeks ago and there was some incredible sharing going around the room, real, really raw emotions and people were celebrating the honesty, the storytelling at the beginning of that session.

00:24:14:13 – 00:24:24:09
Dr Amanda Potter
It just set the tone for the meeting, for the day meeting. And gradually you could see around the room the bravery and the courage coming out, because one person started exactly.

00:24:24:09 – 00:24:29:15
Philippa White
One person started. You’re like, Oh, my God, I’m okay. I guess I need to go over this. This, yes, yes.

00:24:29:15 – 00:24:33:00
Dr Amanda Potter
Rather than oh, yeah, I live in Surrey. Yes, I’ve got a dog.

00:24:33:11 – 00:24:45:03
Philippa White
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah. That’s so interesting. You did a podcast recently about the importance of belonging. I did. And I just wonder, you know, how does that contribute to psychological safety?

00:24:45:03 – 00:25:15:00
Dr Amanda Potter
Oh, massively. I mean, belonging and the importance of feeling valued, being seen, being heard, feeling like our contributions matter, that we’re respected, that we’re part of something important. It’s all key, isn’t it? There is a really strong relationship between belonging and success in the team. I mean, there’s some great data around belonging and productivity and performance, but there’s increasingly great data around psychological safety as well.

00:25:15:00 – 00:25:25:02
Dr Amanda Potter
So when when there’s personal connection, when there’s belonging, teams are much more likely to feel psychologically safe. So yeah, some really great data thinking about belonging too.

00:25:25:04 – 00:25:53:13
Philippa White
It’s interesting too, because I mean, certainly so much of this comes down to self-awareness, doesn’t it? And and knowing knowing yourself, knowing what makes you tick, knowing your purpose, knowing what fulfills you, what makes you happy. And then and then finding a place that you work that also ticks those boxes, which then I imagine also works towards a sense of belonging.

00:25:53:13 – 00:26:19:14
Philippa White
Because if you’re working at a place where the values aren’t in line with what is important to you, and you’re working towards something that just doesn’t feel right, but you don’t know what it is because you haven’t really stopped to really think about what is important to you, what are your needs, what are your values. And I imagine that that sense of belonging as well, when you work at a place where you feel included, you’re working in a place where people connect with you.

00:26:19:20 – 00:26:25:23
Philippa White
But also just the grander place that you’re working also fits and you have a sense of belonging.

00:26:26:01 – 00:26:47:22
Dr Amanda Potter
Is there true? And I think that with belonging, it’s about authenticity. So it’s about and as you said, it’s having the opportunity to be the real you. I, I really struggled when clients were having capability models and they would have the or value models and they talk about bring yourself to work. I couldn’t quite get it at the time.

00:26:47:22 – 00:26:48:15
Dr Amanda Potter
I think you want to think.

00:26:48:23 – 00:26:49:11
Philippa White
Of course.

00:26:49:23 – 00:27:00:14
Dr Amanda Potter
But I do understand the authentic self and playing to your strengths and not trying to be someone that you think other people want you to be, but to be the person that you are.

00:27:00:21 – 00:27:01:08
Philippa White
And here.

00:27:01:15 – 00:27:24:03
Dr Amanda Potter
You are. Yeah. The things do. The things you love gravitate towards the things that bring you joy, that enable you to succeed and understand when something doesn’t bring you joy and how you can potentially move away from it. Share. Share the load with other people who do love those things rather than flogging yourself every day and being miserable because it does impact resilience.

00:27:24:12 – 00:27:46:18
Dr Amanda Potter
Yeah. So it’s amazing how all of these things are connected because we just did some research looking at imposter syndrome and resilience and very obviously we found that if you’re more when you’re more resilient and experiencing positive affect, you’re more likely to have self-belief, less likely to have to experience feelings of imposter and, and it’s the same with belonging.

00:27:46:21 – 00:28:05:18
Dr Amanda Potter
Ultimately, if we feel like we belong in a team, we’re more likely to feel like we have a place. Because the whole point around imposter syndrome is that we don’t feel like we have a place, we don’t feel like we belong, we feel like we’re alien and we’re not good enough as a bloc, the sense of belonging in the team and that we’re being valued and that my contribution matters.

00:28:05:18 – 00:28:20:22
Dr Amanda Potter
I’m less likely to feel like I’m an imposter. I’m less likely to feel like I need to be on high alert. And so when we’re happy, we’re more likely to be able to access those positive neurotransmitters that make us feel good. So it all kind of.

00:28:21:01 – 00:28:22:23
Philippa White
It all can all it all does.

00:28:23:04 – 00:28:24:01
Dr Amanda Potter
Spins around.

00:28:24:01 – 00:28:43:06
Philippa White
And these are conversations that I mean, you’ve been doing this for 30 years, but interestingly, in the corporate environment, day to day, these are things that people are talking about regularly. We have a program that we’re rolling out, we’re piloting in at the moment, but we’re going to be rolling it out to about 500 people around a business next year.

00:28:43:22 – 00:29:03:24
Philippa White
And it’s all rooted in developing human competencies. And yeah, and so we, you know, it’s broken into different sections. One of them was talking about interdependence and understanding about collaboration and the importance of not working in a vacuum and, you know, us needing other people. And how do you create those unlikely partnerships and what does that look like?

00:29:03:24 – 00:29:28:12
Philippa White
And then another is interconnectedness. So, you know, my my behavior can impact others in other places. And what does that look like from a leadership point of view? And how does that change the way I behave when I know that I can’t work in a silo and my actions impact others? And then another is self-awareness. And so it’s it’s talking about what we’ve just been talking about, you know, fulfillment.

00:29:28:12 – 00:30:07:12
Philippa White
It’s talking about our strengths and weaknesses and how when we understand that, you know, that that changes team dynamics. I mean, what you were saying about having diversity of cognition thought within a business and you know, when you hire people that are like you, it’s very difficult to get that. And so when you understand what makes you special and when you have that confidence to really tap into what makes you great and you you have that self-awareness of what that is and you have the confidence, you know, to be able to hire people who are different, knowing where your strengths are, knowing where your weaknesses are, and then having.

00:30:08:00 – 00:30:28:03
Philippa White
But it’s all connected. And, you know, we had a fascinating session yesterday where we had a global people officer talking about all of this and we had a group of senior leaders. And again, you know, these are conversations that day to day. People aren’t talking about it and they’re not tapping into it. And and there are many resources that many of the businesses.

00:30:28:03 – 00:30:44:23
Philippa White
So, I mean, you have coaching and and you have but people don’t even necessarily even know why to tap into that. And it’s opening up these conversations to make it more accessible and to sort of start to see yourself within these conversations and how it involves me too, you know?

00:30:45:03 – 00:31:08:10
Dr Amanda Potter
Yeah, it’s brilliant, isn’t it? And I think actually that’s what’s so great is the psychology, the neuroscience. It’s much more accessible via podcast, via these sorts of conversations for people, which is just so fantastic because I agree, I don’t think we were having those conversations and even having been a coach for the last 20 years, I wasn’t having enough of these conversations with my coaches for the first ten years.

00:31:08:10 – 00:31:27:24
Dr Amanda Potter
I think it’s been the last ten years that the majority of my conversations now around the neuroscience and actually what’s happening inside to help you activate it, I feel better and to be stronger, to be fit and to be healthier, to be more courageous and so on. But the point you’ve made, which is really interesting, is around bias.

00:31:28:10 – 00:31:47:17
Dr Amanda Potter
And we all we’re walking, we’re walking biases and we lie to ourselves beautifully every minute of the day and our brains lie to us. You know, they tell us things. I mean, we I can make up stories on the basis of things I overheard and almost believe I was there. And I can always tell myself I was there.

00:31:47:17 – 00:31:49:19
Dr Amanda Potter
And then I have a memory of being there. And I think.

00:31:50:01 – 00:31:54:01
Philippa White
If I look, then you can actually talk about that. You’re like, Oh yeah.

00:31:55:04 – 00:31:57:08
Dr Amanda Potter
Someone told me that I was there, so I must have been, you know.

00:31:57:09 – 00:31:58:13
Philippa White
Just have this weird, crazy.

00:31:58:13 – 00:32:18:13
Dr Amanda Potter
Conversation with myself. So our brains lie to us. We fill in the gaps, we fill in secrets, we make up stories. And also we we have shortcuts all the time. So the similarity bias he was thinking about, we hire people are like ourselves, you know, that’s the worst thing we could do. We need to actually gravitate towards the people who are the most irritating and difficult to work with because they’re going to challenge us.

00:32:18:13 – 00:32:19:18
Dr Amanda Potter
And I think and as I.

00:32:19:21 – 00:32:20:10
Philippa White
Said, it’s.

00:32:20:19 – 00:32:44:18
Dr Amanda Potter
In our strengths questionnaire, there’s a section on Energizes and Frustrated. And the point is people who are similar were energized. You see someone whose future focus will be energized by someone who’s inspiring or courageous, and someone who is courageous will be frustrated by someone who’s compassionate. And so that actually the courageous and compassionate person should work together because they will.

00:32:44:21 – 00:32:47:05
Dr Amanda Potter
Yeah, they’ll spark, you know really well so.

00:32:47:14 – 00:32:49:20
Philippa White
Of because they need balance in anything to.

00:32:49:24 – 00:32:50:22
Dr Amanda Potter
Do. Yeah.

00:32:51:06 – 00:32:54:15
Philippa White
How do you set up people for set people up for success.

00:32:54:21 – 00:33:16:13
Dr Amanda Potter
In so many ways? I think it depends on the angle and it depends on the problem. So individually, how do I set someone up for success? It starts with the self awareness piece that you’ve just been talking about. It helps to identify the natural biases that people have and that might trip them up that create those feelings of low belief or imposter syndrome.

00:33:16:17 – 00:33:49:05
Dr Amanda Potter
And it’s just about really helping them understand what their strengths are, how they make decisions, their propensity for positive and negative affect, and therefore helping them to make better decisions and make better choices about their careers and their lives. So individually, that’s kind of my approach in terms of teams, we really look at what is the opportunity, what’s the challenge the team is trying to change or improve on or work on, what’s the organization, strategy and the goals and aspirations.

00:33:49:05 – 00:34:08:14
Dr Amanda Potter
And then the solution might vary. So sometimes we go in very much around the decision making of the team, particularly if they’re a very collaborative organization or consensus driven, or it might be around like safety if they’re very avoiding a failure. So it’s very much diagnose, understand and then come in with some of the psychology and how could that help?

00:34:09:00 – 00:34:11:15
Dr Amanda Potter
So I haven’t answer the question very well because it really depends.

00:34:11:19 – 00:34:18:02
Philippa White
Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. But there’s different ways that you can. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

00:34:18:02 – 00:34:42:24
Dr Amanda Potter
And to be fair, I mean, because a lot of our stuff is based on research, it does often end up me thinking, Oh yeah, so resilience or fit in there or decision making a fit in or strengths will fit in to diversity and so on. So there is quite a lot where we do use a lot of our previous thinking, but what’s brilliant is our client will come to me like belonging and say, Actually, could you do some research on blogging?

00:34:43:03 – 00:35:00:17
Dr Amanda Potter
It’s something we’d like to understand in our organization or another one with compassionate leadership mine asked us to build and run compassionate leadership workshops. Okay, sure. I think we know what that is yet. So went out. Did the research try to understand it and then kind of got comfortable talking about the.

00:35:01:14 – 00:35:17:15
Philippa White
Fascinating, fascinating. What are some take? I mean, you actually gave a really great takeaway as far as what people can do for icebreakers at the beginning of a of an event or a conference or a meeting to get people to connect with one another. But do you have any other takeaways that you can leave listeners with.

00:35:17:18 – 00:35:38:09
Dr Amanda Potter
Just building on that, with personal connection being the real key foundation of psychological safety, we just need to make sure we spend enough time getting to know each other as humans, as people. And so that question around, if you knew me well, you’d know that another one is the greatest tip you’ve had from a family member or friend to the best advice you’ve had.

00:35:38:12 – 00:35:40:16
Dr Amanda Potter
A family member or friend. That’s quite a nice one.

00:35:41:00 – 00:35:41:22
Philippa White
Yeah, well.

00:35:42:07 – 00:36:07:05
Dr Amanda Potter
Sometimes happy helps for people to be able to prepare on that one because if you do me well it’s quite front of mind. But the the best tip you have to take some time to think about what is the best tip I’ve actually ever had. So there’s lots of different questions I would include at the beginning of meetings just to create a different dialog and to create a greater depth of conversation rather than going straight into the professional business stuff.

00:36:07:06 – 00:36:34:23
Dr Amanda Potter
And the other tip I would have is focus on you first. The more you can look after your physical health and you can eat well, exercise, get in daylight, practice your breathing, the more likely you’re going to access the positive neurotransmitters. So dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and all of the others. And that will help to suppress the production of cortisol, which is the stress hormone.

00:36:34:24 – 00:36:57:00
Dr Amanda Potter
And will help with the release of melatonin, which means you’ll have good sleep cycles, etcetera, etcetera. So if you can focus on you first, then take breaks, go for walks, all the things we know, right, that often our brains lie to us and they tell us to eat cake, sit down, have to mind us and yeah.

00:36:57:06 – 00:36:57:18
Philippa White
So just be.

00:36:57:18 – 00:36:58:19
Dr Amanda Potter
Good. I think the.

00:36:58:19 – 00:37:06:23
Philippa White
Answer yeah, that’s really good advice. Now we have come to the end, but is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners?

00:37:06:24 – 00:37:23:08
Dr Amanda Potter
I would just love to say, if you are interested in psychology and you would like to listen to another podcast, which is just as equally, hopefully as both, equally hopefully as awesome as this one. It’s the chief technology officer, and I just challenge a lot of thinking around psychology and neuroscience.

00:37:23:18 – 00:37:35:13
Philippa White
I will include the link so that people can check it out in the bio for sure. I think that’s a great ask. Wonderful. Oh, Amanda, it has been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us. I really enjoyed it.

00:37:35:13 – 00:37:36:18
Dr Amanda Potter
Amazing. Thank you.

00:37:37:13 – 00:37:40:08
Philippa White
You.

00:37:40:08 – 00:38:05:04
Philippa White
Hey, everyone, this is Phillip again. I hope you enjoyed listening. Now this is your chance to get involved with Thai. If you’re looking to create better leaders, better companies, and a better world, that’s just what we do by helping leaders tap into their greatest asset, their humanity. We have a number of corporate programs that impact a range of people from individuals at a company to 500 people around a business.

00:38:05:16 – 00:38:33:04
Philippa White
Or check out my book, Return on Humanity Leadership Lessons from all corners of the world, you’ll find the answers to how business can truly become a positive force while remaining at the forefront of competition. You can find all the information you need on all of this at Thai leadership dotcom. Get in touch and I can explain more. A huge thanks to Betina Vieira for co-producing this with me and for creating the music.

00:38:33:19 – 00:38:55:01
Philippa White
I hope we’ll meet up again soon.

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