Everyone is Looking for This
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

There has been a common theme surfacing in most of my coaching and training sessions. I am having many conversations around employee engagement and retaining key talent. Leaders are wondering how to keep people motivated, and my answer is always the same: connection. Connection is the key to all these questions and is something we all need. Sadly, we often try to get our connection fix via social media, which leaves us frustrated as mostly meaningless interactions bombard us.

Great leaders know that connecting with people dramatically improves their influence. When connection occurs, the team buys into their leader, becomes fully engaged, and are propelled toward excellence as the team members’ brains flood with serotonin and oxytocin. In chapter six of Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek shares great examples of how and why this works. This buy-in is fueled by the realization that the leader has bought into the team first. Don’t miss this point. The people buy into the leader because the leader has bought into them. Let’s take a look at how this buy-in starts.

When a leader practices great intentionality, they are able to  invest time learning each team member’s hopes, dreams, and beliefs. This requires the leader to stop talking and listen. Examples of this might be listening to your team members’ talk about their plans for the weekend and really listening as they speak about their families. Each interaction provides an opportunity to build a connection. When the leader begins interacting with follow-up questions about their hopes, dreams and beliefs, the person feels known, accepted, and valued for who they are more than what they do. Remember, people are human beings, not human doings. Now, none of this is overly difficult. It just takes time, effort, and energy. You won’t connect by accident.

This morning I was on a training call with one of my Maxwell Leadership colleagues, and she said something so profound, “Perfection blocks connection.” I knew I had been given gold as soon as I heard that. When we focus on perfection or that one right answer to our question, we block the ability to connect. When we spend time finding fault rather than building on what is going well, we drive people away. Always lead with what is going well. Remember, no one is perfect, but everyone is a person of value who is looking for connection.