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.
- 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?