When it comes to working with people, the heart comes before the head. That's true whether you're communicating to a conference room full of people, leading a team meeting or trying to relate to your best friend.
For leaders to be effective they need to connect with people. All great leaders and communicators understand that you can't move people to action unless you first move them with emotion. Good leaders work at connecting with others all the time. The stronger the relationship you form with followers, the greater the connection you forge - and the more likely those followers will be to want to help you.
This is something that has come through in these strange times. I've talked with people in businesses who have described the impact that a single conversation that a leader has had with them has done to inspire loyalty and for them to give an extra 10%. On zoom calls, I've watched individuals struggle because it is harder to see someone's heart when the mute button is on, it's harder to get that feedback loop. As if the mute button tones down our non-verbals as much as our verbals.
I love talking to packed conference halls and to feel the vibe and it’s just felt different. When I’ve pre-recorded video, I’ve found it so hard to keep the energy high. I can hear it in my own voice, I can feel it in my posture and energy levels.
I've always been the kind of leader who gets to know a little bit about everyone that I work with. I stop in the corridor to say hi, I follow up when I hear some exciting news. Yes, that does make me a more relatable leader, yes I can get a sense of how people are feeling, how productive they are , how creative or even committed they are from those conversations. But the exchange is just that. As a leader who engages with people, I feel inspired, I feel grateful for the energy and intent that they put into their work every single day. I feel validated, that the vision that I'm trying to work towards is the best option for people that follow it. People that follow me.
Those exchanges fill me with hope; sometimes they bring me down to earth as well for sure. Nevertheless, I’m always grateful for feedback, even negative feedback or complaints. I don't think that people would trust me as much with their honesty and candour if I hadn't created that connexion.
So, if you are a leader reading this, I'm going to encourage you to indulge.
This treat, I promise, is calorie free . This treat will give you a dopamine hit, it will make you smile. The streets will lift you up and although it takes a bit of your time away it boosts your productivity lots of people around you. Get up, make that call, switch on that camera, connect with someone.
Ask them how they are, then ask them how they really are. Share your worries, let them hear your frustrations , your excitement and ask for their opinion. I promise you that that short bit of time will pay you back tenfold if not more.
As a leader it will validate your direction or if it doesn't it will offer you valuable insight that will help you to succeed. I know though, one thing is for sure, you won't get near that joy or that insight while you're sat at a desk. So do it!