A decade ago, Paul Zak began measuring brain activity from people while they worked and he soon made an important discovery: There are scientific reasons why some organizations perform at high levels while others flounder.
He discovered from his tests that people work more effectively – and deliver better results for their companies – when they are working in trusted cultures, such as an environment where workers are not reprimanded or fired if they make a mistake.
Zak, who is trained as an economist and a neuroscientist, helped launch the field known as neuroeconomics, which measures brain activity while people make decisions.
“If you want innovation, then you need to let people make mistakes,” he says. “Innovation requires taking a risk, and people need to know that’s OK.”
In his new book, “Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies,” Zak explains that he’s sometimes been called a “vampire economist” because he takes blood from volunteers in order to measure neurochemical changes during decisions.
Zak is the first scientist to show that the brain synthesizes the neurochemical oxytocin when people are trusted by others. The oxytocin then causes others to reciprocate trust by being trustworthy, he explains.
In other words, it’s the oxytocin that is the biological underpinning for the Golden Rule, he says. “If you treat me nice, my brain makes oxytocin, signaling that you are a person whom I want to be around, so I treat you nice in return,” he says.
Zak says that it’s important that leaders understand (read more here)