Build Leadership Connections This Simple And Powerful Way


For the past year I have been working with an organization to help create more accountability and transparency. Each week when I arrive, I am greeted by a warm, smiling face at the front desk. This professional receptionist always makes sure to welcome me by sharing some funny story. These chats put me at ease as we have light- hearted conversations about our lives. This week we opened up how we both are so challenged when it comes to taking care of plants- neither of us has a green thumb. As we laughed and bonded, I felt valued and appreciated for the work I do for this company. She is the first face everyone encounters as they begin their day and she makes sure every person coming through that front door is greeted with respect. She is more than just an individual at the first point of entry- she is a leader who recognizes the impact of building connections.

As my morning progressed, I ran into a manager who had attended one of my workshops in the fall. She also greeted me with a smile and asked:

“How’s it going?”

I could sense she was already having a difficult day so I immediately responded:

“And how are you doing? Is everything ok?”

She hesitantly answered with a sigh:

“All right I guess. I am moving along.”

I felt she needed just a few words to show my concern and comfort her:

“It sounds like a crazy day for you already. Hang in there. Things will get better.”

She smiled as we parted ways.

We connected as we listened to one another. It was easy and natural to share how we felt. Through an informal conversation we show we care.

Here are two examples of how leaders naturally engage with the people they work with and encounter each day. I am sure you have many stories you could share too. What these two leaders demonstrate are five essential leadership qualities that come naturally to them:

1. Be curious about others

We meet many different people in our professional lives that we only know about through our work and projects. Aren’t you a little curious want makes them sing? Aren’t you a little curious what they do after they leave their jobs? Even though the manager was having a difficult day she made me feel welcomed.

Being curious empowers a deeper connection.

2. Know how to begin a conversation

We’re not all comfortable chatting people up yet we do want to know more about them. Remember that people love to talk about themselves so ask some simple questions:

“So how was your night?”

“How’s your baseball team doing?”

“What grades are your kids in now?”

These are just a few. What are some questions you might ask?

3. Be approachable

Just like the receptionist I spoke about, when leaders are approachable, deeper conversations and interactions can occur.

  • Smile
  • Keep an open mind and don’t judge
  • Make eye contact and make others feel welcome when they open up

4. Make people feel valued

When we feel that we matter we are more willing to give the extra time and take on the extra workload. Tell those around you how important they are to the team’s success. Show appreciation through words and actions.

5. Build relationships by connecting

If leadership is all about cultivating meaningful relationships, then we must find ways naturally to connect with those we meet along our journey. Nothing fancy. Nothing profound. Just simple conversations that are natural for each of us.

How do you build leadership connections? What are some of your stories?

(photo credit)

9 thoughts on “Build Leadership Connections This Simple And Powerful Way

  1. Genuine curiousity and eagerness to learn about others is such an important part of our connecting as humans and as leaders. It’s about going a step deeper into the conversation and genuinely wanting to know. Thanks for the great post.

  2. All great ways to strengthen relationships and build connection, Terri! Taking an additional 60 seconds out of your day to be real, curious and responsive to other people can make an incredible impact. People want to be seen not only for what they do, or their job title but who they are. Thanks for sharing how it can really be so easy!

    PS. You’re not the only one that doesn’t have a green thumb 🙂

  3. I love your term of “eagerness” as that shows an active desire to really pursue meaningful connections.

    I wrote this post because some leaders find it difficult to begin a conversation and I wanted to share the simplicity of being natural. We don’t need to come up with profound conversations, just simple questions and engaging responses.

    Thanks Karin!

  4. Engaging with others doesn’t take much time, while it does send a powerful message of caring. And your point of not just knowing a person for what they do but rather who they are is so important.

    When working with leaders I try to empower them to share their gifts with others while also discovering what drives someone else to action.

    So funny about you not having a green thumb either!

    Thanks Alli for all you share!!

  5. Love this post, Terri!

    I could see myself in both of those scenarios…and you’re right – both are great examples of different styles of leadership.

    I find that a huge barrier to building relationships is taking the time with people…you took the time to chat with the receptionist; you also took the time to chat with the leader who was stressed.

    Great reminder that we also need to cut time out of our own schedule to make time for others 🙂

  6. I agree LaRae that we need to take the time to build relationships, although shorter informal conversations are incredibly powerful too.

    Maybe if leaders make a commitment to themselves to get to know their team members better, there could be a culture shift. Others might then model their way and before one knows it a more transparent and caring workplace may emerge.

    Begin with a simple conversation that feels natural to us.

    Thanks for all your insightful additions!

  7. When curiosity and empathy are intertwined, great conversations and understanding will unravel in very positive ways. You are so right, Terri. We need to make those timely connections and turn them into meaningful conversations and understanding. Thanks! Jon

  8. I agree Jon that curiosity and empathy are a perfect combo for building rapport and deeper relationships.

    The lesson I realized is that those conversations can be about things that come natural to each leader and do not need to be so comprehensive or profound. Just by engaging others in dialogue begins the building of connections and an understanding of who people are, not just what they do at work.

    I appreciate your great comments, Jon!


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