Too bad there isn’t a similar quest for connections.
Connecting is good for individuals and for business. The research is a little dated, yet back in the late nineties Sears discovered that a 5%increase in employee satisfaction produced a 1.3% positive bump in customer satisfaction which, in turn, yielded a 0.5% increase in revenue growth. How? Leaders transcending “it’s all about me and/or the bottom line” by building connections and relationships.
People do the work, so connecting with them should be high on a leader’s priority list, right alongside strategizing, budgeting and planning the next acquisition. In Touchpoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments, Doug Conant and Mette Norgaard write, “Each of the many interactions you have during your day is an opportunity to establish high performance expectations, to infuse with greater clarity and more energy, and to influence the course of events.”
5 ways for leaders to connect
Try one (or more) of these five ways to build and foster meaningful associations (not just clicking a “like” icon!) with your work team, employees, colleagues, others within your company, and with the wider world:
1) Own up to your mistakes. Stories abound in the press about leaders, politicians, etc. who cover up their lies and seem surprised when their credibility is lost. It takes real personal leadership to make yourself vulnerable and disclose your blunders. To be vulnerable is to be strong.
2) Be generous with your time. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you’re too busy to meet people for coffee, chat for a few minutes after a meeting or take in the occasional networking event. People want affiliation, so be the one who gives it to them.
3) Shift your perspective. Tony Schwartz, President of the Energy Project, calls this viewing the world through “a reverse lens.” Sure we want to get the sales report to the boss as soon as we can, yet when a colleague drops in unexpectedly, reframe the situation as an opportunity to engage and/or influence rather than as an interruption.
4) Practice reciprocity. If you want people to play in your sandbox, you have to play in theirs from time to time.
5) Share, don’t hoard. Communicate what’s happening (tell what you can). Start a discussion. Connect like-minded people and even contrarians. Recommend articles, websites, books, etc. Being viewed as a subject matter expert and/or the “go-to” person for ideas boosts both personal and professional connections.
Who will you connect with today?