Leadership Insights by Kathryn Pollack
Connection is the heart of our human experience.
This is relatively clear to us in our personal lives. Where we can run into trouble and completely miss out is not acknowledging that professional relationships hold the heart of our work-life experience.
After all, we are the same humans at work and outside of work. The most rewarding and deeply fulfilling experiences of my professional life involved building relationships of substance, trust and purpose which resulted in the lived experience of enjoying our ability to work together through seemingly challenging issues, obstacles, and situations.
Connection drives fulfillment, and when you consider that most of us spend a minimum of 60% of our waking hours at work, we need to be connecting in a meaningful way with others during our working hours if we want to feel fulfilled. Building meaningful connections in the workplace involves using two of the four domains of emotional intelligence; social awareness and relationship management.
It is incumbent on us as leaders to foster an environment that encourages connection.
Building connections, even <gulp> emotional connections in the workplace does not have to be scary or uncomfortable. In fact, building emotional connections does not involve "being emotional" or showing emotion; it is about making a human connection with someone else. Like taking a moment to listen to a story about someone's family or spending time understanding your employees' long-term aspirations.
For some of us, connections come easily; but for others, it may not be so natural. Here are some ideas for how you can establish meaningful connections in your workplace:
- Actively listen to people when they speak - really listen. Avoid the trap of thinking about your next meeting or your to-do list while someone is sharing something with you. Avoid the other common trap of thinking about what you are going to say when they are done speaking. If you are fully present and truly listening, people feel valued, and you learn what you need to about others.
- Practice servant leadership. Servant leadership is leading with others in mind; helping people develop and perform to their maximum impact. Servant leaders value diverse perspectives, cultivate a culture of trust, and view employees as whole people, not just as staff. Servant leaders put their people first.
- Create space (both physical and temporal). Make sure there is enough time in your regular meetings with direct reports to discuss long-term goals and aspirations, rather than having just enough time to cram in all the tactical details of the projects and operational updates. Encourage staff to take breaks away from their desks so informal interactions and quality encounters can happen on a regular basis. Set up recurring monthly social events at work. They don't have to be elaborate or costly, even as simple as a mandatory coffee break networking session.
Leadership has everything to do with how you relate to others and the quality of the fabric that those relationships create. By showing others you care about them and their future - not just the bottom line - you create a culture of engaged employees who enjoy impactful experiences, fulfilling encounters, and remain fiercely loyal over time.
Kathryn Pollack, a keenly attuned and accountable senior leader who believes in bringing your whole self to each moment and everything you are to all that you do. Learn more about Kathryn here.