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What does it takes to become a fearless organisation?

Recently, Pax8 UK approached me to help them create a fearless organisation. What happened next was rare in organisational life.

As a burnout keynote speaker I often say that becoming fearless conjures up images of being unfazed, when really it invites us to know in our bones what it means to be vulnerable.

This can only happen through deep experience.

So last week, Richard Bartlett and I designed and facilitated a two day offsite for their top 25 people leaders to take them on that journey.

There's a quote doing the rounds that a culture is defined by the worst behaviour a leader is willing to tolerate. This starts with the worst behaviours that we are willing to tolerate within ourselves.

So we began with a provocation: if you care about creating a healthy, high performance culture then you have to turn the camera around and be honest with yourself about where you aren't stepping up and even acting in ways that are contrary to your company values.

In my work as a burnout keynote speaker I've seen that this is enormously challenging because we have all inherited an old story of leadership. One where the leader is put on a pedestal and made to be infallible, only to be imprisoned by having to maintain the appearance of always being flawless and in control.

We have to cross a palpable threshold of fear to acknowledge that we have negative traits, burdens going on behind the scenes, doubts about our capacities, and beautiful qualities. But when an organisation leaves the old story of leadership behind, true safety, trust and connection arrives.

We give up the great pretence and start to feel the relief that comes when we can finally be real with each other.

This is the fearless organisation.

What followed was non stop bravery over two days as Pax8 leaders claimed parts of themselves that have never been fully allowed inside the doors of any organisation. This would only have been possible if there weren't already strong cultural foundations put in place by the CEO Robert Belgrave in their incredible first year of business.

I'd like to include what one participant shared, because it's a reminder of what this work is ultimately about:

"It's always easy to think we're too busy to take time out of the business, but this has truly been a life-changing (not just career-changing) two days."

Yes, we are here to grow incredibly successful businesses, but on a deeper level we are here to change each other's lives for the better.

We are finally at a cultural moment where both go hand in hand. This is the work I facilitate as a burnout keynote speaker and resilience trainer.

I feel incredibly proud of Pax8 UK, and know in my bones that great things await them.

This piece was originally shared as a post on my LinkedIn and inspired by day-to-day insights from my own experiences with burnout, mental health and chronic pain and my work as a burnout keynote speaker and resilience trainer. Reach out if you'd like to work together!

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