The dynamics in your team influences your team’s effectiveness, but did you know your team dynamic also impacts your genes?
Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression, rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Where, how and with who we live influences the way our genes behave because humans have genes – transcription genes – encoded to be impacted by the environment. (Think classic nature verses nurture debate.) Current thinking is that about half of how we are is the result of inherited DNA, and the other half is the impact of transcription genes.*
“Your experiences today will influence the molecular composition of your body for the next two to three months, or perhaps, for the rest of your life. Plan your day accordingly.” This warning comes from Steve Cole, Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA School of Medicine.**
Cole’s early research looked at how social experience affected men with HIV, and found that closeted men succumbed to the virus much more readily, and that HIV-positive men who were lonely also got sicker sooner, regardless of whether they were closeted. Many studies since from other scientists, have shown similar results, such as that people with richer social ties got fewer common colds. In one study of 153 healthy Chicagoans in their 50s and 60s, Cole and his collaborators from the University of Chicago found that about one percent of the genome was responding differently depending on whether a person felt alone or connected – social connection matters.
So the environment we are in impacts the expression of our genes, social connection impacts our health (a lot), and we spend about 40% of our waking hours each week at work.
Could the dynamics in your team – good or bad – be impacting your health? Or even your genes? Fearless Leadership teams are aligned, strong, healthy, and inclusive. What are you willing to do to build that dynamic in your team? And what’s the cost if you don’t?
* Judith Glaser, ‘Conversational Intelligence’ Module 2 – Humanizing, 24 July 2018
** Steve Cole has pioneered the field of human social genomics. His research uses genomics and computational bioinformatics to map the biological pathways by which social environments influence gene expression by viral, cancer, and immune cell genomes.