Leadership that will stand the test of time and weather the rough terrain that often a team or organization faces is built upon influence. The evidence of influence is when those being led willingly follow and willingly work for and with the leader. When I teach servant leadership, the step that comes next, and what influence is built upon, is serving the needs of those being led. However, there is a step in between influence and serving and it is critical to both. It is connection.
You can’t lead someone you don’t know.
You can’t intentionally delegate to someone you don’t know
You can’t serve the needs of someone you don’t know
You’ll never have true influence with someone you don’t know
Connection to and with those you lead puts you in position to know your people and is a critical step to ultimately leading them in the direction you want to go.
Abraham Lincoln knew this well and it showed in how he chose to spend his time. 80% of his time was spent in the war office or on the battlefield with his soldiers. Connection can only really occur in one to one conversations. Lincoln understood that it is one thing to read about the leader’s words and an entirely different thing to see the leader and hear his words yourself.
An investment in connection by the leader results in deep, personal engagement by those being led. Satisfied employees show up for work and are SOMETIMES motivated to go the extra mile, but personal engagement, resulting from feeling connected to the leader, results in commitment, creativity, effort and passion for the goals of the team or organization.
When preparing for a season when how your people show up to work deeply matters and will mean the difference between o.k. results and great ones, be intentional about investing in connecting with those you’re leading (A “Be With” Program).
As you enter this season of connecting, here are three questions to start the process:
- “What are you most proud of accomplishing? Tell me all about it!”
- “What is/are your biggest challenge(s) right now? Tell me all about it!”
- “Tell me how I can help you”
People will forget the things you do and say but they won’t forget how you made them feel. Feeling connected to you as a leader and feeling safe will create an environment where their full potential can be realized.