Connections with others is the heart of relationships for leaders. It’s the connections that tie us together as a team at work or at home. We talked about being self-aware as a leader to enable authentic relationships. Now, focus on how to maximize your connections with others, which is a powerful tool to motivate your team to achieve their goals. Relationship management is key to your success as a leader.
If you have resentment and apathy from a team usually it’s the result of a leader that doesn’t show interest or empathy. Unlock the energy of your team by connecting with your people in order to build and strengthen these bonds. Certainly, there is more to connecting than just conversation. Employees can tell when you as a leader are not engaged or interested in what they have to say. It’s a not a great feeling.
Active listening shows others you are indeed interested and that you want to be available to them. Are you checking for understanding, which is also important to ensure true connection is occurring? Management guru Brene Brown writes about the importance of employees understanding what you expect of them or “How you paint DONE for them“. So put down your iPhone, shut your laptop screen and don’t look anywhere but at your employee. Follow this list to ensure you are in your active listening mode:
- Give others your undivided attention. Be present and available.
- Check your body language. Use open gestures, uncross your arms and legs and stand or sit up straight. Also make eye contact and use open gestures with your body with an occasional head nod. This shows your employee you are interested in what they have to say?
- Be curious and ask questions. Repeat back to them what you’ve heard them say to ensure there is no miscommunication.
- Check for understanding. Did they hear you in the way that you intended? Answer any lingering questions, then wrap it up with a recap in an email to your employee.
Be in the Trenches
Many leaders of companies that are continually rated as best places to work share one belief: get in the trenches and be willing to work on all levels as a way of truly connecting. This type of roll-up-your-sleeves mentality shows employees no matter what your title is, you understand the day to day operations and want to help.
Bridge the distance in connecting with others by knowing their “why”. Use your time wisely to make small connections in your weekly routine. Best in class leaders mentor and coach their employees to reach achievable goals in the office and even in their personal lives. Tom Ferry, CEO of Tom Ferry International, NYT-bestselling author of “Life By Design“ and top real estate coach believes “When you take a genuine interest in your employees and impact their lives beyond the office, you build lasting relationships and a more loyal tribe.”
We’ve heard of leaders encouraging their team to start Whole 30 challenges, fitness goals, charity fundraisers and outside interests that benefits individuals and sometimes the entire corporation! It does more than just make people healthier. It breeds goodwill, creates loyalty and employee engagement.
If you are not using active listening techniques or getting involved with your team on multiple levels, give it a try. These are ways to connect authentically with those you work with. If you need help with relationship management, contact me.