You may have heard the term ‘stretching your comfort zone’. This was my brief with Mike and his senior management team: to help them stretch their comfort zones and achieve trust in the company.

Over recent years, Mike’s company had seen rapid growth. This brought many challenges in resources and recruitment, and led to mistakes, blame and a silo mentality. Worryingly, results were taking a hit. Relationships were strained.

The critical contributing cause was a lack of trust - without it, teamwork unravels. Neuroscientists have found that when trust is present, the oxytocin bonding hormone is activated, making complex conversations less threatening.

To test whether you trust your peers, ask yourself:

Can I be vulnerable around them?

Could I tell them when I feel anxious?

Could I tell them there are days I fear I’m not good enough?

The field of neuroscience is growing exponentially as brain imaging technologies improve. One area of greater understanding is the limbic region, which can be directly mapped to how we communicate and behave. In layman’s terms, the limbic region is wired by default to react to everything as a threat, a catastrophe. The limbic neurons operate in a nanosecond, giving no time for the logical part of the brain to intervene - unless we step back and slow down.

Imagine the scene: Mike and his senior management team are working alongside each other with the false belief they are stretching their comfort zones. Behind the scenes, their limbic brains are reacting to a perceived threat of not being good enough for the job. They wear a mask of false camaraderie and see each other as threats, tip-toeing around each other and avoiding giving honest feedback. The limbic region of the brain is running the show, so no wonder they retreat into silos and blame.

Over six months of genuinely stretching their comfort zones, they learnt the meaning of trust, how to create it and cascade it through the organisation. They have now learnt to give honest and objective feedback, secure in knowing they have each other’s backs.

Trust is everything.