This Invisibilia NPR podcast episode inspired me profoundly.  (The particular story starts at 4:30.  The adjoining topic about McDonalds in Russia was interesting but not what I want you to hear).

Imagine the culture around Louisiana-based oil rig workers. What comes to mind? A hard-working, gruff, machismo code of conduct?  Having that makes sense just to survive such grueling dangerous work.

But, you probably wouldn’t imagine guys routinely sharing their vulnerable fears and tears with their superiors and peers… would you?

That’s exactly what these Shell workers practiced, and in the process of this shift, they massively improved the safety and productivity of the rig, and also transformed the notion of what a Southern oil man is like.

Harvard business review also did a study of these groups and reported:

“Their altered stance revealed two things: First, that much of their macho behavior was not only unnecessary but actually got in the way of doing their jobs; and second, that their notions about what constituted strong leadership needed to change. They discovered that the people who used to rise to the top—the “biggest, baddest roughnecks,” as one worker described them—weren’t necessarily the best at improving safety and effectiveness. Rather, the ones who excelled were mission-driven guys who cared about their fellow workers, were good listeners, and were willing to learn.

Over the 15-year period these changes in work practices, norms, perceptions, and behaviors were implemented company-wide. The company’s accident rate declined by 84%, while productivity (number of barrels produced), efficiency (cost per barrel), and reliability (production “up” time) increased beyond the industry’s previous benchmark.” (link)

As someone who was raised in the South, and who has dedicated his career to supporting individuals and organizations to skillfully integrate relational intelligence, I feel no shame in sharing that those metrics brought tears to my eyes.

Are you interested in having more of this work in your personal life or organization?

If so, dive down these rabbit holes right away:

Aletheia – Integral Relating Intensive – Weekends scheduled soon in Boulder, SF Bay Area, and more.
Authentic Relating Comprehensive – 3 Intensive Weekends to transform your relationships, Boulder or SF.
T3 – Train the Trainer – 9 months to train to be a certified Integral Circling facilitator.
Relational Leadership Summit – Sept 22-25th, Boulder CO – For practitioners, teachers, and innovators in the field of relationship development and emergent leadership.