As human beings, we are deeply motivated to connect to others. It’s a basic social need. The most rewarding types of ‘connections’, or relationships, with others are with people who care about you, who support you in exploring your interests and facing your fears.
This type of supportive relationship helps you to feel empowered, allowing you to move beyond your comfort zone one step at a time safe in the knowledge that someone has your back and believes in your potential.
I’m sure we can think of many such relationships in our personal lives, but what about in our professional lives, and specifically with regards to leadership?
Leadership should be viewed as an important relationship within the business context – a good level of connection is needed between a leader and the people they lead if they, and the organisation within which they work, are to be successful.
“When leadership is a relationship founded on trust and confidence, people take risks, make changes, keep organisations and movements alive. Through that relationship, leaders turn their constituents into leaders themselves.”
– The Leadership Challenge, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
How do I lead people effectively?
By putting people at the centre of all your leadership efforts you’ll build strong relationships. However, to lead effectively you must also understand the people you are leading. And to understand them, and to build trust, you must connect with them at a fundamental, human level.
So how can you do that?
- Take a genuine interest in your people – show you care about them as an individual
- Listen carefully, seek to understand their motivations
- Communicate with them openly, tell the truth and explain the “why” behind decisions
- Discover their interests and develop their potential
- Show them you trust them, empower them to do their best work
- Recognise their achievements, a simple “thank you” for a job well done goes a long way
How would you assess your leadership skills?
What type of connection do you have with your people? Where have you built strong, effective relationships, and how can you ensure that these are maintained? Where are your connections less strong, and what can you do strengthen these relationships?
Leadership – especially in such an open job market – is no longer about command and control – it’s about engaging with the people you lead, and inspiring ‘future’ leaders though your actions. It is vital that you ensure that people are constantly at the centre of your leadership efforts. Remember: Leadership is built every day, not in just one day.
Written by Siân Milne – Lead Assessor