Connection is the personal trust that a leader builds with their people that is essential in positioning themselves as an influencer on their team. So many people, including myself, grew up in a work world where it was "Do as I say cause I'm the boss. You don't have to like me. Just do it." That attitude will only take you so far. When people lack connection to their leader they feel as though they are not valued as a person. It makes it easy for them to find another job because they have nothing holding them where they are.
Connection is simple to understand and difficult to execute. There are fears of becoming to close to the people that a leader must lead and being trapped in the friend zone. The fear that "caring" about people means that you have to like them. "I don't like all that emotional stuff. This is business." The simplicity is that connection only requires caring and listening. Caring is an action and not an emotion. It is something you do for someone not how you feel about them.
When will caring for the members of a team truly test a leader. When you simply don't like the person. Many doctors, nurses, and care givers don't particularly like the person they care for but they do it anyways. It is not a feeling its an action. If you struggle with empathy, lets starts from a simple place. Caring is finding out what is important to someone else, and making that important to you in a way they can feel it. Listening requires you to care and caring requires that you listen.
I had a young man working for me in the navy that loved monster trucks. I personally have low interest in them. To show him I cared I simply asked why he liked them. When did he see them last. Is there a favorite of his. When is he going next. I simply showed interest into what interested him.
This can be initiated by a leader by simply asking someone what they are proud of. When someone shares that with you they are sharing what they are willing to work for and what is valuable to them. A real leader listens to that and makes that important to themselves in a way to help the person pursue their passion.
Leadership- ITS NOT ABOUT YOU!!!!!!
With all things leadership, there is a complexity. Style counts here. I work with DISC for personal style traits but there are other systems of evaluation out there. Everyone has a style that they speak and work with other people. If this is the case and you prescribe to DISC metrics that means that the style you use is only right 25% of the time. This begs the question, "what are you doing the other 75%?"
To listen and care you must be able to communicate effectively, listen carefully, care legitimately, and adjust your style appropriately. Realize the effect of your style on others and give your team what they need. Not what you want them to have to be successful.
To this point I have posted about Character, Competence, and Connection. Leaders that master these skills that I teach every day are in position to be an influencer in their people's lives and are also in position to challenge them to do their best work.