In my book, Everyone
Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently,
I share one of the most overlooked aspects of leadership. If you’ve read the
book, you know where I’m going, but if you haven’t read the book, let me tell
you—you don’t want to miss this thought.
In fact, it’s the one thing that makes or breaks a leader,
and it’s worth sharing again, so here we go:
Leaders cannot succeed in life without communicating effectively.
It’s not enough for them to just work hard; it’s not enough to do a great job. To be successful, you must learn how to really communicate with others, and that means learning how to connect with them.
Ask yourself the following:
- Have you ever gotten frustrated during a
presentation because people just weren’t “getting it”?
- Have you ever wanted a raise, and needed your
boss to understand just how much value you bring to the company?
- Have you ever wanted your kids to really listen
so you could help them make wise choices?
- Have you ever wanted to improve your
relationship with a friend, a peer, or someone within your community?
Those are all communication challenges, and the key to communication is connection.
If you can’t find a way to communicate effectively, you will have untapped potential everywhere you go.
After decades of marriage, public speaking, leading
organizations, and developing and mentoring other leaders, I can say this
If you want to succeed, you must learn how to connect with others.
If you can connect with others at every level—one-on-one, in groups, with an audience—you have the capacity for strengthening your relationships, increasing your sense of community, generating teamwork, and multiplying your productivity.
In my book, I defined connection as the ability to
identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence
with them. I talk often about connection beginning with finding common
ground with others, but it’s also about finding common ideas and common
language that helps secure and extend the connection beyond the moment.
I would say that connection needs:
- A values match—you need to find a common
set of beliefs on what is wise or good.
- A vision match—you need to find a common
future or desire that you want to work toward.
- A venture match—you need to find a common
desire to do actual work that builds on the values and achieves the vision.
How much healthier would your relationships be if you
excelled at connecting?
Would your relationship with your significant other improve?
Would your relationships with your kids?
What about your co-workers or neighbors?
I could go on and on about this idea—which is why there’s an
entire book on the subject! Helping leaders learn the vital importance of
connecting with people is one of my passions.
Communication is my gifting, but connection is a skill that I have honed over time in order to make the most of my gift. Anyone can learn to connect if they’ll be intentional about it; and anyone who wants to live an intentional life understands the benefit that connecting with others brings.
I don’t do this in all of my blogs, but this feels like a
good spot for a call to action. Take a few minutes today and do the following:
- Evaluate your connection skills. Where do they
need improving? Where are they strongest?
- Spend some time reflecting about some of your
most recent conversations; did you search for common values, or vision, or a
venture? What did you do to make the other people feel connected with you?
The one thing that makes or breaks a leader is the ability
to connect with others. The further along in leadership and life we go, the
more effective we must become at connecting with people.
Our success depends on it.