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Connecting is Part of Leadership

I believe that connecting with people around you is an important part of leadership. Where this is missing, teams perform poorly. Lack of team chemistry and the camaraderie make it harder for the team to get big goals done. When leaders connect with people on the team and build relationships with their team members, the team can share work, accomplish bigger objectives, and be more efficient at meeting business goals. It’s important that as leaders, we connect with all levels of our organization. We should connect with our peers, our direct reports, and individual contributors throughout our organization. It can be easier to connect to our peers and our direct reports because we see them the most often. We have many opportunities to talk about families and interests as well as business issues. However, if you are leading a larger organization, there may be fewer opportunities to connect with others inside the organization. So how do we do that? Something most leaders do is have all-hands meetings, where we present to everyone on the team, share business goals, strategies, team successes, etc. At these meetings, try to make sure there is plenty of time to take questions from the team. Use these questions to share part of yourself. For example, during one Q&A, I was asked about the telecommuting policy; I started sharing how I used telecommuting and how it impacted my son and wife to have me home one day a week. I then shared the policy with the team and let them know as a leadership team we supported it. When managing larger groups, it’s essential to maintain personal contact. I make sure I have regular meetings with each team. I always come early to these and start conversations with the people I don’t see very often. I talk about personal things. We’ll have time to talk about business when the meeting starts. But getting to know the people and sharing a little about myself at a personal level is important. It connects us, and hopefully, they will be more comfortable about sharing any issues they might have at work at a later time. Smaller morale events is another way to connect with individual teams. I show up to some of these. At that point, I’m there to have some fun with the people and be myself. I want to get to know the people, and I want them to get to know me as well. I share personal struggles and listen to their struggles, as well. For example, one team took a couple of hours once a month to play board games. I’d show up, play a couple of games, talk to folks and have fun, and maybe learn a little bit about that team's culture. Another team would have monthly Rock Band sessions. When I would come they’d always want me to sing (I am a terrible singer). We’d laugh and joke with each other, and it was just fun. A big reason I believe in connecting with the team at all levels is I want everyone in my organization or the bigger organization to feel comfortable talking to me about what is going well, what isn’t going well, and what they think I could do to help. By connecting to people, they get to know you. People will do more for someone they know at a more personal level. The team around you will reach higher goals and drive more business success.

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