the connected leader

Posted on 10:34 AM by dave

Chris was a good leader.  Everywhere he went he improved employee performance and promoted the overall vision and mission of his organization.  Chris was quite exemplary at managing his P & L's had a knack for improving the appearance and cleanliness of his store.  Chris was the model supervisor.

But Chris did not have a lot of followers.

Maybe you've had a boss, CEO, manager, or organizational leader like Chris.  You may know his type well. They exemplify all the values of your organization.  They are someone who just seems to be so enthusiastically compelled by corporate rhetoric that they just might bleed the colors of your organization.  They are charismatic, outspoken, highly motivated.

Maybe you haven't experienced working for or serving with someone like Chris.  I can guarantee you one thing... you will.

These types of leaders suffer from a connectedness issue.  They do not know how to effectively relate to and connect with their team, employees, or colleagues.  They are the disconnected leader.

They hear their employees but do not listen.  They manifest intelligence and education as individuals but do not embody understanding and discernment as leaders.  They lack relational connectedness... or as Steve Saccone has smartly defined it, Relational Intelligence.

The main challenge that Chris faced in his leadership ability it is the lack of listening to his employees or team members.  We can all fall victim to this if we are not careful.  Listening goes beyond hearing to compassionate understanding.  That does not mean the leader needs to have "been there, done that" to appropriately empathize. What it DOES mean is that the leader must be willing to sacrificially consider the needs of others as a first priority.  

Tim was a phenomenal example of this. 

Through effective listening, Tim was able to prove that the agenda must move aside as the cares and concerns came to the forefront thus validating the team's feelings.  If the weight of concerns from our teams are not prioritized and addressed, we will find ourselves pushing an agenda rather than creating a cause with which our team can advance.  Tim was the connected leader.  But just like Chris, we will end up coming across as callous, cold, and unapproachable if we do not connect with our team.

A word of caution- as a leader, this does not mean that you have to have an answer to every concern because most likely you won't be able to make everyone happy.  Tim was at times just as powerless as his team.  However, by allowing his team to air their thoughts and hearts, he created space for them to feel known and understood.  Then when difficulties arose, they knew that he had a better understanding of their needs due to their connectedness so that Tim was better equipped help them through the process.

If we are diligent as leaders to ask good questions and listen to our team, we will find ourselves surrounded by a cohesive team who are willing to risk for us as long as we are willing to risk for them.  More on that in the next post.

What spaces or rhythms have you created within your organization, club, or group that allows your team to feel understood?  How do you connect with them?  What practices have you adopted to help you listen to and not just hear your team?