Many of us as leaders have learnt that leadership means ‘telling others’ what to do or being the expert?  Whilst there is certainly a place for that Purposed Leaders inspire, connect and serve.  In short this is what successful leadership looks like!

Connecting with people

I have witten quite a bit lately on what it means to serve so this week i had some thoughts about connection.  Connecting with those we lead is about building relationships of trust. It’s also about empowering others.

People trust Leaders not because of what we can do but because of who we are

It’s a character issue.  That is why Character-bsed Leadership is so powerful.

To connect with those you lead means taking time to get to know them, and allowing them to know you.  This means being authentic. There are 2 key practices that are hallmarks of authenticity and facilitate connection.

2 key Practices to connect

Yet there are 2 practices that build trust instantly.  The first is being vulnerable.  A leader who knows how to be vulnerable will admit and share their mistakes so others can learn from them, will admit when they don’t know something (but take time to find out about it) and will ask other for help and advice, especially members of their team.

The second thing is become a coach by listening and asking powerful questions.  Many leaders have type A characteristics, or D (Dominant) Behaviour traits.  This enables them to drive projects to completion and deliver results.  However, these character traits favor control and  often a fast pace. When stressed these traits can become overplayed strengths, i.e. they become more controlling and stop listening. 

Becoming a coach is all about listening, asking powerful questions and facilitating others to find their own solutions. This  may not come naturally to persons, like me, with type A or D character traits.  Or indeed the other character traits, as even they tend to operate in the same way. This is because our culture promotes telling and advising as hallmarks of effective leadership. Taking the lead and telling or advising may be necessary in some cases. However, it’s likely that the majority of the time listening and asking questions will be more effective.  

Developing the practices

I encourage you to take the plunge and start developing these practices.  It takes time but persevere and you will see the rewards of empowerment and strong connections of trust with those you influence.

Great resources for asking powerful questions  are: Coaching Questions: A coaching guide to powerful asking skills by  Tony Stolzfuz and The Coaching Hanit: say less, Ask more, Change the Way you Lead forever by Michael Bungay Stainer

A great book on vulnerability is Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown.

Have a great weekend and let me know how your practice goes.