Great Leaders Connect

The leadership that has been on display from successive Prime Ministers have been salutary lessons in the art of how not to lead. My reflection on what has happened, particularly in Liz Truss’s case is that she failed to remember the first rule of leadership which is that great leaders connect. If you don’t connect, then people don’t follow. When you don’t work on emotional intelligence things can go spectacularly wrong quickly.

“The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present.”
James Kouzes and Barry Posner

Whatever your vision is, as a leader you must make sure you communicate your plan in a way which connects with the people who will be implementing it. Failure to do so will lead to misunderstandings, unmet expectations, and a failure to launch. As leaders, even if it is not something you naturally do well, to ignore both developing your communication skills and your emotional intelligence will mean the extent of your influence will be far less than it could be.

In the case of Liz Truss, the focus of the world’s media was on the economic package on offer from the new Prime Minister. Yet this was not where the greatest failure was. The failure was not communicating effectively, not being human, and coming across as someone unable to connect with key people around her and most importantly the people who vote. As leaders, you have the most influence when you have built an environment of high trust around you. When you withdraw from the bank account of trust more than you have deposited then you bankrupt the relationships on which your leadership is built.

The good news is that both communication and emotional intelligence can be learnt. Decide to invest in these critical factors if you want to maximise your influence as a leader. The fact is the people you lead understand information in different ways, to be effective in your leadership is being aware of this.

“Our rewards in life will always be in exact proportion to the amount of consideration we show toward others.” Earl Nightingale

The consideration you show to those following you is to relate to them in ways that connect. When you connect with someone there is engagement, and when someone engages with you they are far more likely to follow.

5 Keys to Building Connection

1. You need to understand your impact. How do others see you and hear you? This comes down to self-awareness. It is a fact that the first task of leadership is to lead yourself well. If you are ignorant of your own tendencies, it is not possible to self-manage or self-regulate effectively. You need to understand your leadership voice.

2. Be aware of the others on your team. What are their leadership voices, everyone has one. To connect with another person requires a measure of understanding. What motivates one person is not the same as another. Investing in tools (like 5 Voices) that help team communication will pay great dividends.

3. Great leaders know how to build trust. Kouzes & Posner in their book ‘The Leadership Challenge’ tell how high trust organisations are 286% more productive than those with a low trust environment. Building trust is key.

4. Communicate effectively. Remember that when you communicate only 7% of the communication is your words. 38% is the way you say it, your tone and 55% is about your body language. Communication is about both speaking and listening. When your team feel heard they will be much more engaged.

5. Create safety. Cultivate an environment where self-protection is something in the past. A culture of learning from mistakes instead of being blamed. A place where people can share ideas without fear of being spoken over, humiliated, or embarrassed. A place of innovation and creativity. It is the X factor in high performing teams.

“I believe that you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar

As a coach and trainer, I can help you maximise your leadership. Click here to take advantage of your free 5 Voice assessment available until 3rd November.

Photo by Krakenimages on unsplash.

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Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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