The Power of Connection
Connection is one of the most important elements of being a leader. It is the foundation to successful and impactful leadership, and there is no way around it. Want to make a difference? Connect. It’s the only way.
But what is connection, anyway? It seems to be a highly popular term these days. Whether it be through social media, text messages, Facetime, or even dating apps, people seem to think they are always “connecting” with others. While virtual communication is in fact a form of connection, there is much more to connection than emojis and keyboard courage.
Connection is energy between people. Connection is laughter, support, and emotion. It is the relationship formed through bonds of common interests, values, and experiences.
Many people often associate leadership with superiority, when in reality it is through the gift of connection that a leader can truly make a difference.
So… how does one cultivate a skillset for connection? Unfortunately, connection is not abstract. There is no set process or formula to building connections, but there are definitely steps you can take to improve your connection with oneself and with others.
Below are three steps that positively impact personal and professional relationships in the most amazing way!
#1 Connect With Yourself
Michael Jackson wasn’t kidding when he suggested starting with the man in the mirror. That shit works. It is no secret that one must be content and at peace with oneself before cultivating quality relationships. It is only when you are self-reflective that you can truly lean into the amazingness of you that can make such a difference.
Self-awareness is key. Reflect on who you are and how others see you – including the good, the bad, and the ugly. No facades, no sugar-coating. Just you.
Don’t know where to start? Ask yourself the following questions:
What is unique and special about me? What are my strengths? What is my purpose? What is my style? What are my passions? What drives me nuts or gets in my way? What do I value and what mark do I want to leave?
Reflecting on your key drivers, values, strengths, and needs is a great place to begin getting to know yourself better and understanding how to be your best version of YOU.
#2 Connect with Others
One of the reasons connection is so critical as a foundation for leadership success is because work today is ultimately about relationships. It doesn’t matter how advanced technology is, how robotic (artificial) services get, or how instantaneous exchanges of goods become. People have always, and will always, thrive from relationships. It is in our nature to connect, engage, and interact. Despite our inevitably virtual future, the need for relationships will never change.
The best way to do this is to connect without prejudice. Adopt a mindset of curiosity and intend to connect with everyone. Find a style that works for you. You may not love chatting it up with strangers in the elevator. Connection doesn’t mean you have to TALK to everyone. It can be a smile, a “good morning,” or even just noticing someone rather than focusing on your phone while standing in awkward silence. It can be building legos with your kid instead of doing dishes while he or she is in another room. Simply find a peaceful way to be in the presence of others for who they are. Stop “doing” and start “being.”
Whether it be at home, at work, within your community, and even globally, remember to honor and nurture all of your relationships. They all count, they all make a difference, and they will all make you a better leader. They will also make you a better person!
Be mindful of how you interact and react with others and gain key insights as to what your interpersonal experiences are and where they may need to grow.
#3 Put Yourself First
Our bodies are the driving force of our success. Being happy and healthy improves our focus, energy, and overall performance. While it may seem selfish and maybe even a little absurd to some people (especially parents), putting yourself first is crucial to being your best self. It is then – and only then – that you can truly offer the best of yourself to others.
Sage motherly advice: love and nurture your mind, body and soul. This includes forming a spiritual connection with oneself, being physically active, eating well, and – most importantly – having fun!
It is through health and happiness that you can give off the positive energy required to build and form connections with people. So remember: just like the chicken pox, energy is contagious.