Caring as a Connective Foundation of Leadership
If you, as a leader, had to choose whether to do paperwork or get out of your office to meet and talk with your team, which would you do? That’s easy: You would choose to spend time with your team.
The hard part: Making that time productive
Just showing up as a leader has value, but using that time to forge emotional connections with your staff is the goldmine where you find productivity gains. Put simply: Showing you care by taking the time to get to know them and their aspirations, and actively supporting their success, reaps great benefits in sustained employee engagement and higher productivity.
A recent article by Scott Edinger on Harvard Business Review’s blog supported this view, and we find his quick three bullets on how to establish an emotional connection a useful reminder. Here is the excerpt, along with our own thoughts against the three bullets:
“Leadership has everything to do with how you relate to others and the quality and texture of those relationships. The higher up you go in an organization, the less important your technical skills become and the more your interpersonal skills matter…The ability to make an emotional connection is so often misunderstood because it’s not about being emotional or showing emotion. It’s about making a human connection — one person to another.”
- Give people your undivided attention. Scott cited a past boss who unfailingly dedicated his complete attention to every conversation they had, even if pressed for time. This ability to tune out the rest of what is pressing on you is critical in fostering better relationships, because each interaction counts!
- Be aware that emotions are contagious. Bad moods and good moods are both contagious. Understand the impact each can have on your work relationships. You are allowed to have occasional bad moods, but do not burden others with them: You could use them to bond with teammembers, byadmitting you are in a bad mood and allowing subordinates to commiserate and offer advice! Otherwise,isolate yourself until the bad mood lifts. On the flip side, share your good emotions whenever possible.
- Develop your sense of extraversion. This is not an option for a leader. Scott says “you simply have to develop the ability to reach out to others, engage them in discussion, and actively provide feedback. You’re the one who has to be out in front, taking the lead in developing these relationships.”
If you are a leader (and we believe anyone can lead), you must manage yourself as actively as you manage others:
- Keep tabs on your emotions
- Control and channel them productively
- Adopt forward-thinking, engaging, action-oriented mindsets
Above all, make it a priority to connect with each employee deeply enough to understand their motivations and talents, to better leverage both to achieve mutually satisfying outcomes.
Does this make sense to you? Leave us a comment to share your perspective, or lesson learned.