Solving Leadership Isolation with Connection
Leaders lay awake at night wondering what’s really happening. You wonder, “Who should I touch base with?
Isolation prevents you from feeling the pulse of your organization. Blind spots hinder your ability to see yourself.
The President has a cabinet, why not you?
We just completed a three month pilot of a leader’s cabinet. I invited seven leaders in the organization where I lead to meet with me for dinner and conversation, once a month. There were three goals.
- Connect with each other outside the organization. (Primary)
- Clarify focus so we can all pull together.
- Develop leadership skills.
Last night we decided the pilot was successful. We’re continuing to meet.
- Food. The organization buys subs or pizza. Eating together facilitates connection.
- Informality. We sit around the table or on couches and chairs while we meet. Last night there was a fire in the fireplace.
- Rotation. Every member hosts the group. Hosting is simple. Use paper plates. This isn’t a dinner party.
- Conversation. Last night, while we ate, we talked about hulu, netflix, technology, pets, babies, old TV shows, and more.
- Listening. My primary role is listen and learn. I constantly remind myself to be quiet.
Last night’s agenda:
- What do I look like, when I’m doing my job? (Feedback for me.)
- What wins have you recently seen? Wins are more about people than programs or projects.
- What are we doing out of habit that is no longer useful?
- Bad is stronger than good.
- Diversify gender, age, and marital status.
- Let people see what’s important to you and express interest in what’s important to them.
- Share concerns or frustrations, but, never talk about something you aren’t prepared to do something about.
- Talk positives five times more than negatives.
- Let the team guide and support you.
How can leaders solve isolation and connect?
Food is the universal language ! Love this post.
We as leaders must do this on a regular basis. The hardest part is what you said “I constantly remind myself to be quiet”. I think the other thing is to not get defensive, when you put a lot of passion into your work it is hard to just listen and process later once we have heard all of the information. We have to take it all in as information and then evaluate it as we go forward and keep tweaking the vision. The one word I don’t see in this article is that the team feels engaged when this kind of feedback occurs and that can be the motivation that makes the whole thing work!
Well, for starters every where I read Leaders, I replace it with people cause everything you are sharing relates to the human condition, not just Leaders!
Next, goodness what we EAT matters!!!! More than any of you imagine!!!
Buy a juicer and make raw food smoothies and replace that with that nasty unhealthy pizza!!! Promise everyone will be healthy and more able to think clearly!!!! Just saying!!!!
Next up there is it one connection that is vital!!! With it no others are possible!!
The one deep inside oneself!! Screw that one up all bets are off!!
There is only one problem, a conscious separation from God, whatever you call God!! Call God, George or Alice makes God no never mind!! God has no misunderstanding of who she is!!!! That is why she is God!!! Lol
So one problem, one solution! Solution is a conscious contact with said George or Alice!! Whatever!!!
Once I AM is connected then a perspective emerges!!! Something like, everything is alright!!! Super cool!! Amazing!!!
Dad, daughter! Daughter frantically looking around room near bedtime! Finley exhausted crawls on bed. Dad sits down beside her strokes her brow!! Asks, what up homey????? Lol
Ok what is up honey!!!! Hehe
She says in school today Tommy said he talked to God!!! I wanted to do that! I looked everywhere…I can’t find him!!
Dad says me too once!!! See long ago these 3 wise men wanted God to be safe so he hid God in the last place any of us would look!!!
Deep inside each of us!!!
The light went the little girl relaxed, started looking within, finds God deep within her….and her name???? Oprah!!
Lol just kidding, her name is each of us in the allness of God!!!
Ok got to get busy with work!!
One problem, one solution, eat raw foods!!!
Good day!! Sorry if typos created themselves!!! I am no typist let me tell yas!!!!
Hope through the grammar errors, typos and misspellings what I have to share shines through!!!!
Thanks Scott. You sure know how to take these ideas to unexpected places. Sometimes I wonder if you even read the post. 😉
Yes of course I read every word! You just inspire me so Dan that my responses just go where they go. I try to keep up but I can’t type as fast as I hear it in my head….all those misspelled words and typos!!! LOL
Not many folks get my inspiration humming like you dear friend.
Your message is a very advanced one, Scott and kudos to you for sharing it with us.
One drawback to being a thought leader is people wont get anything from what you have to say if they don’t understand it.
To have a real influence on people, sometimes we have to go to their bus stop and speak their language,. then slowly and lovingly lead them to your bus stop where they will have learned along the way to speak your language. 🙂
Just my thoughts though, and some will disagree.
Michelle, MANY thanks!!!
Two questions…..did any of what I shared resonate in your heart?
And two, you single????? Lol
Just so thoughtful of you to share and really insightful.
I mean you did not have to take your time to share what you feel would benefit me.
I feel deep appreciation and am going to take your heartfelt advice to heart.
Want an advanced lesson?? Tonight 9pm Ken Wilber. I heard from emails I get from Tony Robbins. This Wilber dude is deep!!! Lol
Party on Wayne!!
One – With a slight twist to the theme, yes it did resonate with me.
Two – You’re funny! 🙂
Three – Thanks! I’ll look into Ken Wilber. Always expanding my spiritual growth and have great respect for Tony’s work!
Thanks for sharing, Scott!
That is SO GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you, highlight of my day!!!!!!!
This Ken Wilber thing starts at 9:00est
He calls what he is up to Integral…..Michelle, that is kinda like Benjamins girlfriends Dad by the pool saying…….PLASTICS!!!!!!!!!!!!
yep Integral! hey closed end fear based thought systems!!!!!!!!!! NOT CYA, how about we will just include ya!!!!!!!!!! LOL
Now THAT resonated right Michelle!!!!!!!!!! hehe
take care and again THANK you for making my day!
Be a magnet to those who believe what you believe and as repulsive as humanly possible to those who do not. no need to be mean, just save yourself and them time. You will NEVER “get” each other so why waste one anothers time!!!!!
Hope you make it to this call tonight Michelle and if not youtube is so GREAT!!!
By the way did you ever think to find out or discover how many of our Founding Fathers were Deists??? hhhmmmmm, interesting My Dear Watson!!!
By the way my work will be adding sound to the worlds text! How cool is that???
Wanna help? hehe
Given the complexity of leadership and the rapid pace of change, all leaders need a coach and/or mentor,
Thanks Bruce. I totally agree. I have a coach and I am one, as well. I’ll add that this idea goes well beyond coaching because it creates connections with several people in the organization. In addition, when I listen to their conversations, I learn about the people they are connected with as well.
I partner with other persons in each of my roles (job, spiritual community, public service) in what we call accountability partnerships. We meet face to face or by phone at least twice a month and agitate and coach each other on making progress toward our goals.
My favorite quote for the day: “Never talk about something you aren’t prepared to do something about.”
To the question…
Recently I had the privilege to travel with my daughter’s high school trip to Spain, along with several other parents. Our Texas group was combined with a group of students from Canada. There were many differences between us, and initially, everyone felt awkward and kept to themselves. However, spending time on planes, trains and buses together for 11 days, getting to see the sights of Spain, hiking through unfamiliar streets, was an amazing way to bond our group of parents, teachers and students together – along with the other group of kids from Canada. Even bonding parents who weren’t too fond of each other before the trip, came to better understandings of each other during. And international friendships were forged.
It dawned on me that shared struggle and humanism helped improve our experience. Teens who normally felt more like outsiders felt part of the group. Teachers and parents who didn’t really know each other before bonded in a new way. And even adults who were known to be divisive in school culture settled down. We were doing things we’d never done before, eating unfamiliar food together, dealing with unfamiliar threats (like pick pockets or getting lost), facing similar challenges, missing various sundry comforts and more. And the more we were in it together, in spite of our vulnerabilities, the more we helped each other deal with these challenges too. In the end, coming home and back to our usual routines was a bit of a let down. Not just because we weren’t seeing one more amazing museum or ancient structure, but because we weren’t going to see each other for awhile and some of us, maybe never again. Now some of us want to move to Canada, some to Texas and all of us hope to get together for at least a potluck again. And in a small way, a sort of brotherhood was formed.
I guess the upshot is, shared challenges, new experiences and common goals went far in helping pull a haphazardly tied group together into something stronger. But also, it took removing us from our usual routine and comforts to do it. We had to suspend our every day routines and reality, and in doing so, it left room to break down barriers and experience so much more.
Thanks Julia. Love your observations. You remind me of how important it is to just do stuff together. In this context, doing stuff that’s outside the organizational context. Just go have some fun once in awhile, if you want to connect.
Thanks again for sharing your story.
This is such an awesome observation and story, Julia. And so true. How can we create this kind of shared experience with the people we need better connections with (i.e. co-workers) (without actually going to Spain 🙂 ? Dan shared a good start. Great reading today.
Thanks for your kind words Rex. I’m reminded of some advice given by my psychology professor 20+ years ago. He said, “If you want to capture a bored or unruly classroom’s attention, tell them a scary story. Then they’ll be yours.” While I don’t advocate scaring the pants off my fellow neighbors, the core of this message certainly hit home for me as something easily applied to many aspects of professional life. To step outside our boxed sense of reality, as well as our audience’s, if we want to foster new perceptions. If that takes going to Spain or touring the local brewery or simply allowing ourselves to be more personal, it’s still the same paradigm shift (provided it’s an outside of the daily box experience).
Our trip to Spain was a crash-course educational tour for high school students (including class credit). If I were to try to equate our particular international travel experience to something more domestic, I’d say shared training or a boot camp in many ways would fulfill a similar experience. These types of experiences push us to work with and see others in an unfamiliar context and to become aware of new dimensions outside our usual routine. And certainly in our case, school group leaders were in the same boat as the rest of us. Perhaps that made it even more effective.
Choosing the cabinet is critical!
Thanks Rajiv. Absolutely. I was thinking about the danger of dominant members vs passive members. But there are other factors like, how long have they been with the organization and how well do they know you.
I once worked under a manager who managed from the sidelines. The only time she approached any of the staff was to point out errors and make corrections. I learned, then and there, this was absolutely not a method of management I ever wanted to employ. Without being involved at all times – good and bad – there is no real connection ever made. Without connection, effectiveness at reaching the goals disappears.
KaPOW!! The “rush in to save the day” or “correct a problem” is definitely a losing way to lead or manage. It’s funny how leading this way can make us feel important, even pivotal to success. That idea in itself should help us realize it’s an ineffective direction.
Timely post for me. I’ve been thinking about starting a small group of women in leadership from different sectors for very similar reasons!
Thanks Diana. I see some connections with this idea and building a group from various organizations. I feel like the group from various organizations is about sharing wisdom, support, and connecting in the community. There are similar results with the internal cabinet idea but the connections happen within. Cheers and best wishes.
We used to have a lunch where the CIO would meet with the “little people” – one time, one of my engineers attended ( a brilliant young man who worked sixty hours a week passionately designing a new ecommerce solution that would generate millions of dollars per year ) and brought up an inefficiency. The CIO looked at him and said, you’ve got a bad attitude mister.
The net result was that our director told every one in his deptartment, if you go to that meeting don’t say one word!
This is really a great idea, and has a great pan-applicability about it. Breaking break together can really break down barriers, and you have me thinking now about how I might apply that to my circumstances. Keeping it informal is crucial, I think. In my experience, having a business meeting while eating is rarely efficient.
I am with Julia on tip 4, and of course I heartily approve of tip 5 (but you knew that). Thanks, Dan.
I owe a lot of progress to this phrase:
“….hey, lets grab a coffee and chat about this.”
I’ve learned that there are three ways to quickly build connection/community: sharing food, singing/music, and our stories. The latter two is a challenge for some folks, because it pushes them out of their comfort zones. However, if you can go there, wow, a community of leaders suddenly appears! Then we continue the process to support the development of ALL of us as leaders.
By the way, karaoke helps break down the fear of singing! 😀 We also use particular exercises to ease people into sharing their stories in a fun way.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves is genuine human connection.
Lots of wise tips here to do just that for oneself!
Thanks, as always, Dan!
I really like the idea of a “cabinet” to give me feedback, while making connections to colleagues. Maybe I’m missing the point but how do you go about building your cabinet? Say, “Hey, [name], want to get together on a regular basis for pizza (or raw veggies) and give me feedback on how I’m doing as a leader?” Or was it more subtle than that? Just curious.
How can leaders solve isolation and connect? When face to face, putting down your phone.
If real leadership is in place, the surrounding support functions should be communicating as a matter of course.
The true concerns of a leader should be to keep all teams focused on a common goal and to focus on gaining and maintaining competitive advantage.
Start talking to each other instead of always on the internet, i-phone etc. Nowadays, there is lack of face to face communication. Join the gang, go for a jog, have a picnic and make sure that all of you start doing some exercise. With the number of heart attacks on the rise and obesity around, better to have a meeting while jogging! All of your colleagues and you would definitely be healthier and live longer to hold numerous meetings and have “fun” at the same time! Spread this to all the other organisations or stakeholders ! Ask the family to join in. In that way, the connections may continue to the next generation and you leave a great legacy! No one can forget you!
Great thought! Connecting outside the business strengthens relationships. Thanks for the reminder!