7 Ways to Master the Most Important Leadership Skill
Intimidation is about reward and punishment. Leading is about connecting.
The ability to connect with people is the magic ingredient that multiplies every leadership practice.
Your brain is wired to connect. (Social)
Those who connect go further.
Those who detach become arrogant. (Mintzberg)
7 ways to master connecting:
#1. Don’t manipulate responses.
Skillful connectors don’t use overstatement to solicit respect or sympathy. Allow people to respond naturally. Accept natural responses, even if they’re surprising.
#2. Know the difference between disagreement and being wrong.
Everything is black and white to a closed mind.
Skillful connectors acknowledge other points of view and offer alternatives without belittling others.
#3. Respond with curiosity to correction, feedback, and disagreement.
Connectors lean in when their feelings get hurt. Hurt feelings aren’t the end of the world.
Your spontaneous response to correction might be defensiveness, but skillful connectors learn to explore instead of defend.
#4. Speak clearly with kindness.
Ambiguity builds fake connections, but being direct doesn’t have to be a slap in the face.
Aggressive communication is designed to silence dissent.
Clarity builds fulfilling connections between adults.
You don’t connect when you silence others.
#5. Don’t be touchy.
Everyone dances around thin-skinned leaders.
You can’t connect with a person who over-reacts.
#6. Set people free.
Connectors don’t paint people into small corners. Your opinion of someone is an opinion, not fact.
Connectors stay open.
#7. Validate emotions.
Connectors don’t fix the way people feel. They acknowledge it.
Our grandson threw an interception during his football game. I didn’t want him to feel bad, but it’s better to acknowledge that he did. I said, “I bet you didn’t get up this morning planning to throw an interception. I don’t blame you for feeling bad.”
What helps leaders connect?
What blocks connection?
What helps leaders connect?
Being open to other people’s ideas and feelings
Fully considering and exploring their point of view
Letting people own their feelings
Good listening skills
What blocks connect?
Lack of curiosity
Being a victim
Thanks Paul. If I wasn’t so darn smart, I’d be open to other people’s ideas! 😉
As I grow in my leadership role, one of the skill sets I have adopted out of necessity is to know your audience. In particular, know their current scope of skill sets so you can respond accordingly. The same message can be said many different ways and when you disagree with a team member’s approach, take your knowledge of that person into consideration when you respond so you can retain that connection while leading them down a more appropriate path.
Thanks Drew. Your comment brought Little League to mind. We talk to young baseball players with their skills in mind. We adapt to them so we can connect with them. The idea includes a two-year-old coloring. You speak their language, not yours. Now if we can only apply this to big people. Too often we judge others through the lens of OUR strengths. They should be like us! Of course, that’s always frustrating for everyone involved.
Genuine curiosity about the other person is the best motivator I’ve found to connection. The more I learn about someone, the more likely I am to find a touch point and a connection to help me remember and appreciate that person.
Thanks Marti. Some years ago I asked an author how to practice humility. He said, “Be intensely curious about people. It’s easy to be curious about results. That seems natural. But taking time to be curious about people is another story.
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Wow thank you for this!