For any organization to operate smoothly, there must be conducive interactions between the different parties involved. For leaders, these human connections are even more important because they can make the difference between your success or failure as a leader.
Why are Human Connections Critical for Leaders?
Connections build trust and grow one’s influence
Leadership is about influencing people to work for the attainment of the set objectives, and you cannot be a meaningful or impactful leader if you can’t influence those you are meant to lead.
The catch is, you cannot influence people without their willingness to be influenced by you. People must allow you to influence them, and that permission can only be granted if they trust you enough to follow your lead. That trust comes from the type of (emotional) connection you have created with those individuals.
This is the reason why human connections are important for leaders. Those connections make people trust you, and once they trust you, they allow you to influence or lead them.
Connections nurture the cycle of success
Human connections also play a pivotal role in a leader’s ability to attain and sustain their success. This is because those human connections nurture what is called the cycle of success. When positive relationships between leaders and those they lead are strong, the quality of thinking within that organization skyrockets. When the quality of thinking is high, it leads to a high quality of action within the organization. With high-quality actions comes high-quality results (productivity). When the results are of a high quality, the relationships are further strengthened, which then restarts the cycle of success and it feeds off of itself to yield never-ending success.
In such a setting, success becomes a culture that can be traced back to the human connections the leaders invested time and other resources into creating. This is why human connections are so important in leadership.
Your behavior as a leader defines the behavior of the organization
If you want to know the character of an organization, look no further than the character or behavior of its leader. Leadership is contagious, and so it is vital that leaders make the right human connections with their teams so that this outlook radiates positively throughout the organization.
We are referring to company culture here. If the leader is empathetic, listens actively, coaches their team, and takes other steps necessary to create good connections with their teams, everyone else in the organization is likely to model this behavior and a healthy culture will be established within the organization.
Remember, employees don’t quit jobs; they quit poor managers. A manager who invests in making human connections will therefore attract and retain the best employees while one who is unbothered by the kind of connections they make with team members will keep wondering why people stay a short while and leave to work for competitors.
How to Improve Your Human Connections as a Leader
Define who you are and what you stand for
People connect with those with whom they have shared interests. For example, you will be more likely to find supporters of a given basketball team banding together rather than finding supporters of rival teams gathered together.
As a leader, your success will depend on how well you define who you are and the values you stand for. This will attract like-minded people who share in your vision. Such people will go over and above the call of duty in their bid to make your shared dream a reality. In short, they will trust you and allow you to influence them since they also believe in what you stand for.
Remember to be authentic, because people will sniff you out from a mile if you pretend to be what you are not.
Always explain why
Another way to strengthen human connections as a leader is by always explaining why a project needs to be done a certain way or why certain action steps are important. When people are made to understand why they are doing what they are doing, they are more likely to trust the person leading them and they will be more engaged unlike those who aren’t taken through the “why” of the things they are required to do.
Avoid the temptation of only explaining the purpose of big things or major projects. Explain the reason for everything regardless of how small you think it is. Your connection with those you lead will grow stronger and you will register more success.
Use simple, concise language
As you communicate with those you lead, make simple and concise language your default way of communicating. Avoid using jargon or corporate speak because such language may leave some people unsure about what exactly you are putting across. Simple language also portrays you as a fellow human, and this can deepen your connections with those you lead.
Concise and clear language also leaves little room to be misunderstood, so your effectiveness as a communicator will galvanize your team to know what exactly you expect of them. The net result will be clarity of purpose and enhanced productivity since there will be no doubt in the mind of your team with regard to what is expected of them.
Root out toxic people
As mentioned earlier, a leader’s behavior determines how the entire organization will behave. Note that leadership isn’t just about one’s job title. A junior employee may wield more influence than their supervisor, so it is important for you to identify and weed out anyone who is toxic in your organization.
We aren’t saying that you start fault-finding and allotting blame. What is required is to root out the individuals who consistently exhibit toxic behaviors and attitudes, such as those don’t act respectfully towards others, are always triggering unnecessary or avoidable conflicts, those that wantonly flout company policies, and other such manifestations of toxic behavior.
If such people aren’t quickly rooted out, they will affect the morale and productivity of your other team members, and they can even be the reason why your top performers leave. Get rid of anyone who is toxic in the organization regardless of how much of a high performer they are. Sooner or later, the organization will pay a high price when such a person is left around for too long. The quality of human connections at the work place will suffer, and you don’t want that as a leader, do you?
The primary function of any leader is to lead, rather than to display their superior technical skills. Leadership is about connecting in the right way with those you lead so that you can move the organization forward. Invest in nurturing human connections within your organization or company and watch your results skyrocket!
To Your Success,