For those of you who follow my blogs, you know that I often write about the importance of leaders developing rapport with their teams. Having the ability to connect with others is probably the most critical skill of any leader. Recently I read a poignant quote by Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup that said: “Making powerful connections in tiny moments is what leadership is all about.” It is the small encounters with one another that oftentimes makes the biggest impact. So what are those tiny moments in our workplaces and what do they look like?
- Good morning and good evening: During these seemingly unimportant encounters, take the time to get to know a team member in a deeper way. These are the times leaders should ask questions about how another spends time outside of the workplace. Find out what activities they enjoy doing and what really excites someone. These insights might actually help you in delegation and team assignments.
- When asked a question about a project: Take the time to listen to what the real issues or challenges are. During this small interaction, a leader can learn about underlying obstacles or the ways that a team member is processing information. Don’t pass up the opportunity to share a story about how you were once in a similar situation and how you resolved it.
- Take someone to lunch: Having a meal with someone is a perfect opportunity to elicit ideas and opinions about a new concept a leader may have or want to launch. People feel more at ease when “breaking bread” and are more apt to open up and add suggestions. In addition, when leaders take the time to reach out sincerely, team members feel valued and more comfortable to express their honest thoughts.
- Conflict during a team meeting: Sometimes we are so fearful of conflict that we avoid it at all cost, especially during a group meeting. An authentic leader will welcome the conflict, put it on the table, discuss it and work on viable solutions. Improved results are often a product of managing conflict successfully as you show your team members that they are encouraged to share different opinions.
- Delegating an assignment: Choosing a team member to perform certain tasks is something leaders are in the habit of dong on a continual basis. That encounter can be a missed opportunity if you do not explain why you selected that person for the job. Reminding them about their particular skills and talents can turn a simple delegation into a moment of feeling important and critical to a team’s success.
Here are only a few tiny encounters where leaders can build on developing rapport with their teams. What are some encounters you have had that actually enabled you to connect with others in the workplace in a more meaningful way?