Many years ago, I oversaw the development for five hospitals. It was a great joy to develop the team for some near-impossible goals that my area had been given, and to reach these successfully.
I loved my team and would have done just about anything for them. But sadly, they didn’t know that. In fact, quite the contrary.
Sharon sat down one afternoon and closed the door.
“You don’t even know us,” she said. “I bet you don’t even know that Alex has gotten engaged. Do you even care about us?”
Are you connected with your own team?
How do you know?
You can imagine that I was crushed. My introvertish nature coupled with a high drive for results had been seen as aloof and uncaring – far from the truth.
The effects of not being personally connected with your team can be devastating – a low level of trust resulting in poor performance and a host of other undesirable behaviors. The symptoms are such that you may blame these on the larger culture of the organization or on other external factors.
Yet, the culprit may simply be that your team doesn’t feel connected with you.
Leaders struggle with this, and we play a lot of head games.
We may want to appear in control to assure the team all is well. We may ask ourselves if being seen as vulnerable is risky to our position of being “in charge.” And some of us question the relevancy of connecting beyond the professional framework.
Yet, without humanizing ourselves, we can appear cold, uncaring, wooden, untouchable…the list goes on. Somewhere along the way, someone has taught us to appear as though we have it all together in order to reflect confidence in leadership.
Becoming human allows others to do so – to identify with you and connect.
Human beings need to feel a sense of connectedness. This comes from knowing others on the team and feeling known and accepted as a member.
In order to have this happen, we must become real.
Highest-performing teams know this – and work on it regularly.
Here are three things you can do right away to “get personal” with your team so that you can engage with each other on a greater level:
Take your teams members to lunch.
During your time together, tell them you don’t want to talk about work, but just want to get to know each other better. Have some questions ready – why did they pick France as a vacation last year? Where did they grow up – and how did this affect the way they see things today?
Develop an understanding about each other’s gifts and talents.
There are some great assessments out there for this: StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others. Have each team member take the assessment, bring their results, and talk about how these show up in their work and life.
Take some time to learn each other’s lives.
What does this mean? Who are you outside of work? What is your favorite movie? How do you handle surprises? Make up a list of questions and share the answers as part of your team-building. Do this over time – knowing each other personally should be intentional and consistent in order to create bonds and connectedness.
Have fun with this. It has become a joy for me personally to connect with others in this way and to develop deep relationships.
As a bonus, when people feel you care about them, they also care about you. When the going gets tough, the team will pull together in a new and more concerted way to succeed.
DO OTHERS REALLY TRUST YOU?
Learn the two vital parts to trust and how they can help you become a more highly effective leader.
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Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.