In this 21 part series, based on John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I’m taking you on a journey towards better leadership. I share with you my own leadership lessons and insights. As a John Maxwell Team Member I’ll be happy to deliver transformational leadership training for your team or organization. See the details below.
Part 10 of 21: The Law of Connection
The Law of Connection: Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand. ~ John C. Maxwell
When it comes to working with people, the heart comes before the head. That’s true whether you’re talking to a room full of people, leading a team meeting or trying to connect with your spouse. Some of us enjoy statistics and numbers more than others, but all of us enjoy being engaged on a personal level.
Leaders who are looking to be effective MUST connect with people. You can’t move people to action unless you first move them with emotion.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said: ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.‘
How can you connect with others? Whether you’re looking at your team, clients, audience, family, or specific individual, following are 8 tips to help you do just that…
1. Connect with yourself
It’s important that you know yourself and are confident in your own skin. If you don’t believe in who you are and where you want to lead, work on that before you do anything else. Click here to discover your instincts.
2. Communicate with openness and sincerity
This brings us back to the Law of Solid Ground. Being authentic you is the only way to connect with your followers in a long haul. Authentic leaders connect. The trust once broken is hard to be tied together.Authentic leaders connect. Click To Tweet
3. Know your audience
When you work with individuals, you find out their name, story, background, dreams and more. When talking to a larger audience, learn about organization and its goals. You want to talk about what THEY care about, not what you care about. This was the reason for my success in building team connection. No matter how big team I had, I always made it a priority to know everyone by name and get to know them as much as possible on a personal level. Shortcuts in this area don’t work. Do your homework!
4. Live your message
This is quite simple. Practice what you preach. This is how you build credibility and earn trust of those you lead. We all know people who don’t have trust of their listeners, no matter how hard they try. When your listeners look at what you do and it’s far away from what you say, you will have hard time convincing them that what you say is true.
5. Go to where they are
During my university years I worked as a translator for individuals and teams who came from US and Canada to my country. I had opportunity to see first hand how some did an outstanding job asking me questions about the culture, reviewing their stories (especially jokes), just to make sure that what they say is culturally relevant. Others didn’t take this time and many times their message lost its impact due to being culturally irrelevant. Always do your best to know your audience. Go to where they are!Always do your best to get to know your audience. Click To Tweet
6. Focus on them, not yourself
This is the single biggest secret when it comes to connecting to others. You will always connect faster when your focus is not on yourself. Ask questions, be genuinely interested in other people, help them and you will win their hearts. As Zig Ziglar said, ‘You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.‘
7. Believe in them
It’s one thing to communicate with people because you think you have something of value to say. It’s another to communicate with people because you believe they have value.
Back in 2004 I was running a project with Gypsy children in my local area. Most of them had behavioral problems, they didn’t understand the importance of education and their only goal was to grow up and get on social assistance. I decided to build my team out of “their own” – parents and older siblings who were unemployed and needed volunteer hours to get increased social support.
In the beginning we struggled. Neither the children nor their parents could understand the reason why I’m running this project. They couldn’t see what I saw. A human potential. We started with after school programs. Music, drama, crafts, discussions, but I used every single opportunity I could find to share with this community my believes. I believed that they could achieve great things. They didn’t have to end up on social assistance. They could become doctors, teachers, lawyers or anything else they wanted. If they just wanted to follow their dreams and work harder than others around them.
I worked on many projects and with many teams, but this one is still very special for me. At the end of the school year I cried my happy tiers to say “good bye” to a community of children, parents, even teachers who believed. Beliefs have power to transform individuals, communities, even nations.Beliefs have power to change individuals, communities, even nations. Choose to believe! Click To Tweet
I’ve seen the same results when working with my private clients, associations and teams all around the globe. Sometimes people you lead don’t see their own potential, but they will believe in your dream and vision you hold for them. Choose to believe in them!
8. Offer direction and hope
Napoleon Bonaparte said, ‘Leaders are dealers in hope.’ When you give people hope, you give them a future. Always do your best to help other people get where they want to go.
Some leaders have problem with a Law of Connection because they believe that connecting is a responsibility of followers. But successful leaders who follow this law are always initiators. They take the first step to connect with others and then make the effort to continue building the relationships. This is leader’s job, no matter how hard it is or how many obstacles you face.
Never underestimate the power of making connections and building relationships with people BEFORE asking them to follow you.
Make yourself available to people. Learn their names. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Find out how they’re doing (don’t walk away after you ask ‘How are you?’, wait for the answer!) But most importantly, listen. Once you connect with your people, they will follow you.
I could tell you story after story how this law helped me to build teams and relationships, pull some crazy projects and get unbelievable commitments and performances from ‘my’ people. This law works and now you can practice it too.
This article is part of a 21-part leadership series.
To your success,
PS: To gain even more insights into leadership, get a complimentary access to my Leadership Breakthrough eCourse below.