When I think of leaders there are many attributes that come to mind – intelligent, focused, passionate, strategic, ambitious, disciplined, and determined. While all of those words are great descriptors, if I had to use one word for success in Leadership, and specifically in attracting and hiring, it would be connection. Leaders are connectors in many ways – they connect people to the organization, and to each other.
Connection is ultimately the way you form deep relationships that withstand the test of time. The word connection has more meaning than it ever has before. We live in a world that is connected – to electronics or the Internet. We are quickly losing the art of real connection. By harnessing the power of connection, you can build an organization that will last a lifetime. While this might be a different way to look at leadership, we believe that focusing on connection is a way to build culture and long-term committed relationships. And more importantly it is part of living a better life – connection means better relationships.
So, what does it mean to be a leader who connects? Let’s examine the difference between a connected leader and an unconnected leader.
CONNECTED VERSUS UNCONNECTED
Some of you may be asking, “Is there a difference between connecting and not connecting?” You might even be thinking “that is too touch-feely for me.” Surprisingly, there is something pragmatic about connecting and it isn’t necessarily touch-feely.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you are connected or not:
- Do you interrupt people when they are talking?
- When someone is talking are you already thinking about what you are want to say next?
- Do you have an expected outcome when talking to people or an agenda?
- Are you able to repeat verbatim what someone has told you?
- Are you able to ask piggyback questions?
Many times we don’t even realize that certain behaviors are shutting down possibilities. If you answered “no” to questions 1-3 and “yes” to questions 4-5 then you are on your way connectedness. If not, you have identified an opportunity to become more connected.
Why Leaders are Connectors, cont.
Why does this matter? As a leader, if you are connected you can:
- Gather information
- Confirm your intuition
- Assess someone’s judgment or leadership
- Teach people how to think
- Make good decisions
- Serve others
- Exceed expectations, and
- Discover new opportunities
This is why connecting is a pragmatic concern versus an emotional one. Connecting provides space to become better as a leader, a spouse, a parent, a friend and ultimately forms the foundation for long-term meaningful relationships and a better life.
Today more than ever, people are seeking leaders. They are hungry for connection and leadership. A leader needs to understand the goals, motivations and type of support those they lead want and need, and then leads people to the future they are seeking.
The bottom line:
- Followers follow leaders they trust and that offer knowledge, guidance and a better future than if they chose to follow someone else.
- Leaders pave the way for followers to achieve their goals and dreams.
As John Maxell says, “Leadership is a lifetime journey, not a quick trip.”
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