10 Ways to Eliminate Isolation and Connect
Everything is worse when faced alone. Lousy leaders withdraw, build barriers, condone silos, and stifle relationships.
Pulling away feels safe, but its destructive.
Isolation causes, magnifies, and exacerbates every issue leaders face. For example:
- Distrust expands when you hide in your office.
- Arrogance, the deadliest leadership failure, grows in segregation.
- Earning respect from older, more experienced employees, doesn’t happen from a distance.
- Fear and insecurity increase in isolation. Everyone knows something’s wrong when you close down and pull away.
Those we push away become the enemy.
Pushing others out is a tragic expression of inexperience. People cause all the problems, but, they solve them, too.
The more you feel like pulling away
the more you must connect.
Leadership in isolation is an empty title.
- Learning connects. Use four words every colleague wants to hear. “What do you think?” Know-it-alls push away.
- Fascination connects. Feel people leaning in when you say, “That’s fascinating.”
- Aspiration connects. “How can we be better?”
- Purpose connects. “How can we make a difference?” “Why does this matter?”
- Compassion connects.
- Vulnerability connects.
- Listening connects.
- Progress connects. “What’s the next step?”
- Respect connects. “You are great at ______ .”
- Serving connects. (As long as it’s not meddling.) “How can I help?”
Connecting is the first step toward leveraging opportunities and resolving issues.
You know how to connect. Stop making excuses for not doing it.
No one builds connections for you. At best, others open doors, but you step through.
Craig Groshel said,
“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”
Connections determine the direction and destiny of your leadership. Every leadership capacity and ability is magnified through connection.
Connected leaders are strong; disconnected fragile.
Exponential influence: help others connect with others.
What hinders connection?
How can leaders build vibrant connections?
I am reminded of this:
A desk is a dangerous place to view the world. (John LeCarre)
That isolation also has tremendously negative impacts on a whole lot of other people, where bad ideas can be impacting the work lives of everyone connected to everyone.
We cannot engage people from the isolated position of wagon puller. We need to keep communication and ideas rolling around.
Thank you Dr. Scott. Great quote. It’s sobering to realize that bad ideas grow in the dark and then the people around us are damaged. You kicked it.
Dr. Scott….Love the quote as well. One that I need to put on my desk. I am a borderline introvert/extrovert and too often the introvert wins. It attempts to convince the extrovert that everything will be better if you just stay put….study a little more, send a few more emails, close the door, people are a distraction, etc. etc. Wrong! Dan, thanks for the “connecting” reminder. It’s huge!! One of my favorite books is Maxwell’s “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.”
What hinders connection?
How can leaders build vibrant connections?
Connection is often hindered by pride, ego and hubris, occasionally by shyness or fear of appearing vulnerable.
We build vibrant connections by being approachable and teachable. We do it by being active listeners. We do it by recognizing that we are part of an organic team, and not the team itself.
Thanks Martina. That last line nails it. “we are part of an organic team, and not the team itself.” Always a pleasure.
Yes yes yes yes did I say yes…isolation causes one to find exact location of the problem!!!!! Wonderful stuff!!!! Lets say a surgeon was gonna cut on me!!! Yippeeee!! Think it would be better for me if the surgeon isolated the problem???? One bunion on one part of my foot??? Keep him or her from cutting me up all over, right?
And the problem is ME!!! Yep being alone I got to come face to face with the Big Problem!! Good paradoxical news is it is the Good News too!!!
I am the only one who created my problem and the only one who can change it. Ever notice folks who hate being by themselves?? Hmmm!!
That is one common denominator of effective people. They take 100% responsibilty for their results.
Do that and there ain’t no where to run and hide and blame and whine.
Yes Dan I believe we are the average of the 5 people we hang with the most often. Choose friends wisely.
Niki emailed u cool video by Brendon Bruchard and thanks for the fish video recommendation docdisc!! Watched it, loved it!!!
Hey anyone interested in cool video?
Google youtube. Love: Finding it, Opening to it, Generaterating it
Yeah get ones house in order and it generates good vibrations, that will attract the folks you can be effective with! Isolate the cool people you can be effective with.
Be a magnet to those who believe what you believe and as repulsive as humanly possible to those who don’t.
It just saves everyone’s time, you won’t sway folks who do not believe what u believe, just annoy them, frustrate u and waste both of your and their valuable time!! Dumb way to spend valuable time
SP back to making oxy!!!
Thanks Scott. Is it better if the surgeon isolates the problem? 🙂 Good one.
Shared this on multiple locations on our Intranet today. I hope this message spreads like a virus 🙂
I think pain and fear creates an instinctual need to isolate and ‘lick our wounds’ in peace and free from judgement. What is likely unique to our humanity is the ability to push past that immediate urge for the benefit of the many and ourselves.
Thanks James. Your support is encouraging.
Yes, it’s odd how our first instinct actually does more harm than good. I can always tell when I or someone else is heading for disaster. We withdraw.
Dead on, Dan.
Thank you sir.
I like your posts every day. Your thoughts are very good but overwhelming. In the last week I have a list of over 40 things you have suggested in list form.
Thanks Lauren. 40 is too many for anyone. I wonder if there is one that makes sense for you?
Sounds familiar 🙂 I’ve thought about this a bit more since we talked about it. One idea: have you thought about installing a word cloud for your blog topics or keywords? Soft of like a guided search engine of all things Dan Rockwell.
I’m working on a way to offer readers a collection based on topics. Stay tuned.
A good reminder Dan. Thank you.
Thanks you Diana. Best wishes
Excellent. Love Connections Section of this post. Thank you Dan.
Thanks Eneyda. Cheers
It’s definitely noticeable that people are withdrawing more and more as a way to cope with business and stress. Being alone and focusing has value, but only in limited amounts. Allowing it to become a habit is damaging, especially for project teams. Their work is fragmented & disharmonious.
Good exercise recommendations, Dan. Forcing oneself to tackle issues collaboratively and in-person is a way to produce a better result and promote better productivity going forward.
Thanks Phil. Your “in person” comment hits home. Lets get face to face not text to text. What a powerful inconvenience. 🙂
Dan, I don’t know much about isolation personally. Yet I’d like to share what I’ve read.
Years ago a young, rather shallow medical student who had earned the honor to study at Oxford asked his Professor of Rhetoric: “Professor, with great respect, what does the study of art appreciation have to do with the science of medicine?”
The wonderful, classical Oxford Professor responded: Life, living, being, and doing have meaning—and there’s pleasure in seeking that meaning…until the coarse necessities of physical existence drag us from the heights of thought into the mart of “isolation” and strife.
Isolation and connection has never been portrayed more vividly than by the exchange of letters by Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. Wow! They wrote for some years while separated, yet always mentioned that “something within” that was vital, significant and alive which transformed who they were and how they could face what was on the outside of them.
Instead of isolation, their thoughts became a bridge to cause the heart of others to be irrupted, some persons to be stronger, a few to be more kind, and still others to be more noble. They both speak to the issue of interdependence and how self-interest lies clearly in focusing on the interest of others. Their experience taught them no one can afford to be fundamentally separate: Isolation is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of wellness in all forms.
Thus, they say, no matter how difficult their circumstance, they have the ability of “integration” [connection] of their head and heart.
Thank you Rick!
What a powerful angle on this topic. Plus, Elizabeth Barrett Browning is one of my all time favorite poets. Glad you stopped in today!
The beginning of your post immediately reminded me of the movie “Dead Poet’s Society”! Robin Williams, a teacher of poetry reminded his medical, law, & engineering students that poems did have a place in their education. Since, eventually, we are all “food for the worms,” we should connect as much as humanly possible while we have life . . . Carpe Diem!
This lesson is not just a guide to becoming an improved leader. It is a lesson that reminds us that human connection and the memories we create with those connections are what life is all about!
Thank you, again, for your thought-provoking post!
Good morning Dan; Good leaders face radical shifts in thier thinking. It is ‘very’ important that leaders make the important shift from (I), to (we). When leadrers believe and speak only in ‘I’, the perception is they place thier importance far above that of others. These leaders fall into a trap of continually comparring with a tendancy to differentiate. I think it is imperative for leaders to shift from the I mindset, to the we mindset if they expect maximum efficiency. True Character-Based Leaders speak in terms of we far more than most other leaders around them. A true Character-Based Leader thinks bigger, they think about others and the needs of others before thier own. Thier focus is (to make things better for others), while supporting and inspiring thier people toward greatness.
This is a challenging shift for the average leader. It’s challenging because it forces you to evauate yourself, your own beliefs, while making critical personal change to thier thought patterns and processes. It takes honest, humble effort that can be revealing and painful for the leader who sincerley wants to make positive, lasting, personal change in thier mindset.
Thanks SGT. Doesn’t “we” roll off the tongue easily. But, the control freak in me, struggles with it. 🙂
“HEY”,, I thought you were the Leadership-Freak??? LOL
Leadership by formula is phony and workers know it. Formula leaders only succeed within the good graces of team players.
For these formulas to work, leaders must live the formula until it is the essence of their spirit.
Thanks Steve. Formulas and relationships collide in my mind. Good call. I hope we can still learn techniques without being fake.
That’s fascinating stuff. 🙂
Music to my ears. 🙂
A super post, Dan.
And I just love Dr. Scott Simmerman. The LeCarre quote is so true.
But never forget……………..There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.
Stay warm, amigo.
Thanks David. Yup, I’m staying snug as a bug in a rug.
This is vintage Dan advice! When I read it I thought about someone in our office who frequently stands at arm’s length, and how that person should read this. I can’t pointedly forward it, but I’m going to go sit at their desk for awhile and connect 🙂
Thanks Catie. I think you might scare them. 🙂
Hi. I really appreciate this post. I also really struggle with it. I’m in a position where I have been working hard to connect and take risks and be vulnerable by asking lots of questions and providing my own opinions, even when what I think may not be the same as what the rest of the group thinks. My struggle is that I almost never seem to be “right” – it’s rare that someone says they have altered their perspective based on what I contributed. I often change my perspective based on what other people contribute and I’m so grateful that I get to learn from really smart people, but I wonder if I’m really that out of touch and unknowledgeable (read “stupid”) that whatever reasons I give for recommending a certain course of action are so easily dismissed. I strongly feel the need to withdraw because I’m too discouraged to keep hearing that message. Why speak if I’m not adding value? How do I know when to keep trying and when to give up? Any feedback from this very bright community is appreciated.
Thanks Challenged. I hear the voice of many others in your candid comment. Very powerful.
Some don’t want answers from others, perhaps most. Perhaps one way to connect with this type of person is help them find their own answer.
Having said that, isn’t it great to have someone who enjoys listening to you. Being listened to is one of the great compliments we pay others.
I wonder if there is a way to connect with people without offering them our suggestions? I guess it sounds unfulfilling.
Thanks. That’s very helpful. Maybe I’m too invested in the outcome I want to see to really help them explore all the possibilities; I can change that by adjusting my expectations for the conversations so that I don’t have a specific outcome in mind other than the conversation itself. As to your last comment, maybe I need to learn that not every connection is going to involve reciprocal feedback. Thanks again.
Connecting is messy. Isolation is easy. Ugh!
Challenged dear friend, if you can think it, do it, describe it somebody already did it better and worse than you!!!!!
Here is the deal. If you want just a little more to do something than u don’t, you can.
It might take practice but you can do it.
Ok to persuade and influence people, piece of cake!!!! Promise!
Start dear friend with the decision to do it, no matter what!!
Second go to youtube and watch. The Science of Persuasion by Dr Robert Cialdini
There are only six short cuts that guide human behavior. Master these shortcuts and everything in this situation will change. Promise
You can do it I believe in you
SP. start by googling the free video. I wish I could charge you 1000 bucks cause you would treat it most likely very different. If you treat it like you paid 1000 bucks, piece of cake. All starts with the decision and then action.
You are SO welcome hope you keep me informed of your AMAZING progress!!!
Just commit to rockin those six shorts cuts.
I sincerely believe in you
Thanks, Dan – Great post!
Scott – Your response was awesome. It helps me as well, because I must be the Challenged Twin plus more!
Just coming out of your office will only bring back some of the connection. Once you are out, engagement with others must occur. Something as simple as saying hi while passing by can offer a connection.
Thanks alex. Thanks for adding an essential next step.
I feel that trust is one of the best ways for a leader to connect. Instead of micromanaging your staff, trust them to do what they’re supposed to and to do it well. They will often exceed expectations, which allows you to trust them more, and your connection with them will deepen in turn. Building your trust with them will also build their trust with you – they’ll come to you more often, respect you more and take your advice/management/follow you more readily.
Thanks Carlene. Isn’t it funny how we feel stronger connection with those who don’t meddle than with those who do?
Yes! Micromanagement is a lose-lose for everyone. Better to implement strategies, processes and expectations that allow you to manage with trust than to constantly “check in” with your staff. In past jobs, I’ve found 15Five.com to be a helpful tool for management. It’s a great way for everyone to be informed without constant oversight taking place.
Like you said, those who keep checking in make us feel like they don’t trust us. It’s degrading and disrespectful. (UNless, of course, we are incompetent and need constant supervision)
I’d like to hear “What do you think?” more often. And from all directions!
Thanks Martin. So, what do you think? 🙂
I’m going to say “What do you think?” a little more often. I believe the more I say or do something positive the greater the impact.
Points 1 and 4 are particularly pertinent I think.
“Distrust expands when you hide in your office.
Fear and insecurity increase in isolation. Everyone knows something’s wrong when you close down and pull away.”
The minute you stay in your office, particularly if there is a sense that things are not rosy, the minute people will start to wonder and before too long they will create a story to validate their anxiety. Someone will add a couple of episodes to hot the story up and before too long its off like a wild fire and becomes the issue that staff are most engaged in. Leaders need the courage to be open and transparent, and most importantly inclusive. Better to dampen a spark than wait for the wild fire.
Reblogged this on WRITINGS OF SANSAR.
Thank you so much, your blogs are very helpful and thought provoking!
Dan – to me this is the difference between a manager and a leader! Really good take! So many managers think they’re leaders…while they sit in their office and stare at their title!
Really good stuff. Insecurity breeds isolation and keeps leaders from connecting. Being afraid of what others will think or say is a big part of this. It seems to be a downward spiral – I am insecure and isolate myself and people see that and lost respect for me.
People desire authenticity but also a strong leader. What seems to solve or at least delay the problem actually makes it worse.
Indeed wise council .I feel this is what I need as a leader to penetrate.I need to be connected with the right people.
How about the issue of a leader connecting with other leaders, to not feel alone and boost his self image, while neglecting, acting superior or even condescending towards staff and leaders he should be leading.
I’ve been following you on Twitter for almost 10 years and I’ve so much from you. Thank you for your brilliant input on so many aspects of leadership at work and elsewhere.