By Steve Adubato, PhD
As leaders, it’s important to proactively and consistently connect with others on a personal and human level, not only as employees or as paying customers, but as people who are a big part of our success. Consider the following actions you can take to have a more personal connection with those around you:
-- Be aware of the “big things” going on in the lives of others. An employee may be dealing with a personal situation that is challenging and very difficult such as an illness in the family or the loss of a loved one. Or, on a happier note, an employee might be especially proud of his or her child performing in an important play or recital. As leaders, we must be aware, sensitive, and empathetic when it comes to these personal circumstances. For example, be sensitive to the workload you assign to your employee during this particular time or if extra time off is needed, don’t hesitate to give it. Further, when something special happens for a colleague or client, place a call, send an email or a congratulatory note.
--Support and encourage team members to reach their professional potential. For example, you might encourage your colleagues, peers, or direct reports to pursue a particular academic or professional degree, attend a leadership development seminar, or participate in executive coaching to improve skills. Further, take the time to find out what is standing in their way, what obstacles and challenges they are facing, and whether any of these obstacles have to do with time constraints arising from their workload. Great leaders understand the value of making a personal investment in their people. The payoff for both parties can be huge.
-- Find common ground with clients and stakeholders. Often, a leader’s job is to make sure he or she develops the appropriate personal relationships with key stakeholders who have a direct impact on the organization’s success. This often means spending time with these stakeholders in a variety of settings outside the workplace. Some of the most meaningful relationship building a leader can do is over a breakfast, lunch, or dinner meeting, as this informal setting often helps others feel especially comfortable.
The point is, really good leaders understand that leadership is often very personal. It’s about relationships and interacting with other people on a very human level. Leaders who don’t make this connection on a human and personal level, no matter how smart they are or think they are, will never truly succeed.