Being a connective leader is no harder than becoming a skilled musician. If you apply these principles and play by the rules, people will follow you.
1. Encourage creativity.
Always involve others in seeking solutions. One of the qualities that makes us different from every other person is our creativity. It’s good to explore the creativity of each member of your team. Diversity brings innovation. From my years of leading several teams, I have discovered that the best ideas often come from passive members of the team. It doesn’t matter that everyone is not outspoken, what really matters is that everyone is heard. Always make sure you involve every member of the team in decision making, regardless of their personality.
2. Become an active listener.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Listening and hearing is not the same thing. Your ability to listen as a leader is your greatest asset, and it’s an asset not many leaders possess. Everyone wants to be heard; no one wants to listen. Sometimes just try to listen and not say anything. When you listen, you show your team members that you care about them and this encourages them to share with you. If you are going to be a connective leader, especially one who is skilled at problem solving, you just have to become an active listener.
3. It’s okay to fail.
Failure is not the end of the world. In fact, you cannot succeed until you have failed. There is no way your teammates will not make mistakes, so the way you handle such mistakes is what will determine what kind of leader you are. Allow your teammates to safely face and self correct it whenever they fail or make mistakes. When someone makes a mistake, compliment her for her effort and tell her that she can do better next time. “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.”
4. It’s all right to be a friend.
The days of autocratic leadership and dictatorship are far gone. There is a popular saying that “leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.” You can’t move people to action unless you first move them with emotion. Being a friend is not as hard as it seems; all you have to do is take personal interest in the growth and success of everyone you lead. Learn their names, find out where they live, give them something of value on their birthdays. Connect with them emotionally, and they will follow you to the moon.
5. Lead your team on a journey.
One of the costliest mistakes most leaders make is that they want to get to the Promised Land first and before everyone else. A team is called that because it consists of diverse people seeking a common goal. Whatever your team’s goal might be, make sure you carry everyone along. Even footballers are not happy when they get benched, regardless of whether or not the team wins a trophy. Let your team members help you as you make crucial decisions and overcome difficult challenges. They say that “success is a journey, not a destination.” Allow your teammates experience the joy of overcoming each challenge on the way to glory.
6. Invest in your team.
I saw a funny joke recently. A CFO was having a conversation with the CEO of a firm.
CFO to CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave us?”
CEO to CFO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
The education of your team members should be a major concern to you as the leader. The more individual team members grow, the bigger and better the organization or group becomes. There is a popular saying that “to double your productivity, triple your education.” In other words, to double the strength of your team, triple the education of your team members. Investing in your team members also brings loyalty.
7. Give recognition.
Don’t try to take all the glory. Give recognition to whom recognition is due. According to Dale Carnegie, “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” Recognition is a major motivation to humans. Who doesn’t like to be recognized? We all love recognition and compliments. Take note of even the little things and make sure you give compliments openly so that the receiver can be very happy. This will also help other members of the team to strive harder so they can receive compliments for their good works.
8. Let your actions inspire others.
“To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.” ―Mahatma Gandhi
People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. In a typical organization, the moment your subordinate becomes stronger than you, he will become your boss and you will become the subordinate. One way to earn respect is to do what you say. You lead by example and from the front. First show your subordinates that you can do it, and they will follow you. They will give their best to become like you
9. Trust is a must.
To be a connective leader, you must earn the trust of your team members. There are various ways to earn trust but some of the best ways are: make your teammates comfortable around you; don’t judge people by their weaknesses and inadequacies and don’t do divide and rule; be a good listener; be your team members’ no. 1 cheerleader, and so on. No matter what you do, you will never be a connective leader if you don’t have the trust and respect of your team members, so earn it.
Featured photo credit: West Point – The U.S. Military Academy via flickr.com