There is a perception that leadership is a lonely place to be, that when we reach the higher echelons of an organisation we sit atop the hierarchical pyramid on our own. However, I would argue that the very best leaders make a conscious effort to surround themselves with great people and make strong connections with others. They build a network around them, a strong web made up of expertise, trust, support and shared purpose which lifts up the entire organisation. Rather than sitting above people in splendid isolation, great leaders are right there in the centre of the pack, drawing everyone together. Leadership connection elevates individuals, teams and organisations to achieve extraordinary things.

During extensive business trips over the past couple of weeks, I have been reminded again and again of the importance of leadership connection and reflected on steps we can all take to enhance it every day.

  1. Set aside ego

However good we are at our job (and it’s not egotistical to recognise when we are performing well), it is never about us. Ego will always be an impediment to brilliance, tripping us up and setting us on the wrong path. When we put aside our ego, really tune in to other people and focus our efforts on bringing out the best in them, everyone benefits.

  1. Practise instimacy when appropriate

Have you heard of instimacy? Instant intimacy has become a bit of a buzzword but in reality is a really powerful way to supercharge our leadership connection with others. When I was away I reached out to some fellow members of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and it was a wonderful boost to my energy while away from home. I find having meaningful conversations so inspiring, and opening ourselves up to instimacy is a great way to do it. You can find some great tips from Katty Douraghy on how to go about it here.

  1. Use every opportunity – or lose it

The irony of today’s ‘always on’ communications is that our devices mean that we frequently miss opportunities to connect on a human level with others. When working with client teams I am always struck by how they tell me that they don’t get to spend enough time together, but then in every break we have in our sessions, they all immediately pick up their phones or laptops and start checking emails or making calls, rather than talking to their colleagues right next to them! To enhance leadership connection we must cherish these opportunities for face-to-face interaction and make maximum use of them.

  1. Listen!

Regular readers will know how passionate we are about the importance of listening. It’s the L in our iLEAD programme (Listening, Energy, Authenticity, Direction) and really is the key to building connection with others. We have two ears and one mouth, and a leader who listens twice as much as they speak will reap the rewards. You can find much more on listening better here.

  1. Be sensitive to cultural differences

I know from my own experience how sometimes an attempt to connect with others can fall flat when there are cultural differences at play, or even worse, actually offend someone. Even cultures which share a language (such as the UK and US) contain trip hazards, such as the very different meaning of words like pants! We must always be careful of what we say or write when interacting with people from another country or culture and it’s wise to avoid colloquialisms. I once referred to something as ‘a nightmare’, meaning it would be a bit tricky for me, but to the client it was interpreted as me being very rude and negative. Luckily, we ironed out the misunderstanding, but not without a good deal of stress for both of us.

However busy we are, investing time in building a connection with others will always reap rewards. Not only will it enhance our emotional wellbeing, but we will without doubt uncover new opportunities and forge fruitful alliances. What more can you do to enhance your leadership connection today and every day?

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