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The Threat Loop In Leadership

A Necessity To Overcome For Success

By Cody Dakota Wooten, C.B.C.Published 2 months ago 4 min read

As a Leader, part of your role is to Drive Change.

However, it is extremely difficult to accomplish the Change necessary for Success in today's world.

A large part of the Reason this is True for Leaders is because Human Psychophysiology gets in the way.

One aspect of this that most Leaders don't understand is what is known as the "Threat Loop" which plays out frequently with Employees.

Now, I know what you are probably saying right now - There are no Threats in my Organization, Business, and/or Teams!

Technically Speaking, you may be "Correct" - you may not have Leaders who are "Actively" Threatening Employees in the "Traditional" sense.

(If you do... that is something you should fix IMMEDIATELY with your HR Representatives).

But, in Human Psychophysiology a "Threat" may be COMPLETELY different from what we traditionally consider a "Threat".

I think most of us would recognize that Yelling, Bullying, or Physical Violence are all "Obvious" Threats.

Yet when we look at how Humans work, just about ANYTHING can become seen as a Threat under the right conditions.

In today's world, we have a "Perfect Recipe" of Disaster when it comes to the Threat Loop, all thanks to this Reality of today called Burnout.

What is Burnout exactly and how does it work with this Threat Loop?

Well, Burnout is the Physiological state where our bodies cannot produce enough Energy (Mg-ATP) to keep up with the Demands of Survival due to constant and high levels of Dis-Stress.

So our Bodies literally begin to Break Down and Shut Down.

When we are in Burnout, ANYTHING that contributes to larger Energy (Mg-ATP) Loss is immediately Perceived as a Threat.

What are some things that lead to Energy (Mg-ATP) Loss?

  • ANY Changes in our Lives
  • New Projects
  • Whether we feel Heard
  • Whether we feel our Strengths are being Utilized Properly
  • Whether our work feels like it has ANY Purpose
  • Perceived Threats to Livelihoods (ie, Fear of Job Loss)
  • Changes on the Team (Responsibilities, Dynamics, Members, etc.)
  • Perceived Feelings of Others in Group(s)
  • Being Sedentary
  • Improper Recovery

That list is just the SHORT list which is ONLY talking about Work.

It doesn't include ALL of the other Stressors in Life.

As I always say, All Stress Adds.

You can't separate "Work Stressors" and "Life Stressors", there are only "Stressors" that exist and Impact EVERY part of our Lives.

What this means is that once we are in Burnout, EVERY Stressor we encounter is Perceived as a Threat to our Livelihoods.

It doesn't even matter if it is "True" or not.

Even if it is just a "Perceived" Stressor, it will be taken "as if" it were True and therefore our Body Believes it IS a Threat.

Now, this brings us to the Threat Loop.

When humans Perceive ANYTHING as a Threat, our Bodies will "store" that within ourselves and will "Remember" it as a Threat.

This is why people who are Afraid of things, such as Dogs or Spiders, still feel "Threatened" even if there is no actual Threat.

The "Threat Loop" has been created.

The more often we go through the Threat Loop, the more something will become Engrained as a Threat.

So, if you have someone on your Team who is in Burnout, and ANYTHING happens that they Perceive as a Threat occurs, it triggers the Threat Loop.

When that Threat Loop is triggered again, and again, and again, what do you think will happen?

The Person will begin to Perceive the ENTIRE workplace as a Threat.

You will be seen as a Threat, other Teams will be seen as a Threat, and even other people on the same Team will become viewed as Threats.

This, however, can become WORSE for Leaders.


It can become Worse because Dis-Stress can be Directly Shared among People.

Through facets of our Neurocardiology and HRV Coherence, one person's Dis-Stress can spread to another person.

So, if someone is in Burnout, they can spread Dis-Stress to everyone around them, quite literally.

If this goes on long enough, you will suddenly find that more people begin to become Burnt Out, and that is when Group Burnout begins to occur.

Considering that 80% of Employees already have different forms of Burnout, it is safe to say that most Leaders ALREADY have Widespread Group Burnout in their Organizations.

This further means that any "Threat" that occurs to any Single Individual within a Team already in Group Burnout, will have a Ripple Effect that Impacts EVERY other Individual.

When you start to think about how almost Anything can become "Perceived" as a Threat to someone in Burnout, you soon Realize that nearly EVERY Option becomes a Losing Situation for Leaders.

The LONGER that the Burnout remains, the more Individuals will go through Threat Loops which only Engrain it further.

Anything that makes Burnout worse, will only make the Threat Loops worse and more deeply entrenched.

So what are Leaders to do?

Fix the underlying Problem - Burnout.

ESPECIALLY if you have Group Burnout as most Organizations currently have.

However, this is not as easy as giving people access to Gym Memberships or offering Meditation Classes.

The Reality is that most of the "Traditional" Programs have no Impact because they do not target an underlying Problem - Stress Damage.

Once people are in Burnout, their Bodies are CONSTANTLY creating Stress Damage which Adds Up.

The longer Stress Damage Adds, the less effective Traditional Programs become.

So, in order to fix Burnout, you need a 2 front approach.

You need to help Employees decrease their Overall Stressors AND you need to help them Fix their Stress Damage.

Anything that does not accomplish both of these will have minimal, if any, Results.

Only when both of these occur, will you help Employees escape the Threat Loop.

Your Success as a Leader depends on this.

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About the Creator

Cody Dakota Wooten, C.B.C.

Creator of the Multi-Award-Winning Category "Legendary Leadership" | Faith, Family, Freedom, Future | The Legendary Leadership Coach, Digital Writer (500+ Articles), & Speaker


[email protected]

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  • L.C. Schäfer2 months ago

    So true. Bodies don't differentiate between threat and perceived threat. Physiologically, it they respond the same way. The thing with perception, is it shapes reality. Say there's a man in your garden, from your perspective he *seems* to be suspicious, a threat, maybe a burglar. So you shoot him. Whether he's a burglar or not, he's just as shot as if he was. The other thing that occurs to me, is at what point does Burnout reach critical mass? Given that it's basically contagious, and at least 80% of the workplace are suffering from it.... it's 100%, right?

  • Oh wow, I've never heard about the threat loop but what you said about it is so true. Because at my previous workplace, as time went by, everything started to seem like a threat to me

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