My blog today is provided by Kare Anderson, an Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal reporter, now Forbes and Huffington Post columnist who writes and speaks on ways to become more deeply connected and widely quoted. She’s the author of Moving From Me to We and her clients are as diverse as Novartis, Not For Sale, San Diego Padres and Gloopt. A long-time friend and colleague, I respect her work and insights.
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In our increasingly complex world, we long for connective leaders.
The higher the technology in our world the higher the human touch needed. We long for meaningful work with others. The most sought-after leaders today are, by nature, connective. They become the glue that holds diverse people together around strong sweet spots of shared interest where each person knows why they are involved and what they bring to the table. Looking back on our lives, these experiences will be some of the most memorable. Here are three traits of connective leaders at work, recognizing that, as Mark Sanborn proves, “you don’t need a title to be a leader.”
1. Actively Involve Others in Seeking Solutions and Prove You Care About What They Say
Some bosses pay lip service to seeking input yet don’t follow up on what they hear but rather repeat their own ideas. You don’t have to always agree but be candid and visibly committed to the conversation. Even introverts who are trained as engineers like Trae Vassallo, the general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, value others’ input: “Great ideas are not solitary things. Feedback from other people is the best catalyst.” As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. once wrote, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up.”
2. Cite a Strong Talent in Each Person on Your Team
When I was a Wall Street Journal reporter my bureau chief bluntly told me one day that I took too long when interviewing some people, and sometimes that was a good thing. I got insights about the interviewees’ views on other topics. He told me that, when I finished writing the story I was assigned, I should write notes on those other opinions I heard. Then, in future stories, I might see where one of those interviewees had an unexpected yet relevant angle and quote them. In effect, he showed me a talent I did not know I had—I saw patterns between apparently unrelated things. It was life-changing. (He was also direct in describing my shortcomings and ultimately became a sponsor.) Consequently I got into the habit of telling others when I saw them demonstrate a talent that may be hidden to them.
Plus it is powerfully satisfying to vividly, specifically praise others when they shine a spotlight on individuals who are showing their strengths. In so doing, connective leaders contagiously create close bonds and model connective behavior wherever they go. Such an approach embodies the sentiment Rosabeth Moss Kanter advocates for leading: “I stand behind you. My job is to make yours successful.”
3. When They Make a Mistake Enable Them to Save Face and Self-Correct
Jennifer successfully completed a project that was vital to the division you supervise yet left colleagues in the lurch on other projects – without telling them. You have an opportunity to offer a vital team values lesson. Act as if she understood she’d made a mistake. Meet with her privately and say, “I appreciate your great work on that project. And, I know you feel badly that your colleagues didn’t learn, in time, that they would need to rapidly make adjustments to get the other projects completed. In our next meeting, how do want to explain to them, how you will do things different in similar situations in the future? You have strong talents and I want to fully back you in gaining their support.”
Hint: As a connective leader, demonstrating that being a strong team player is as important as being a rising star — and acting as if that is also their intention – enables you to sidestep criticizing them while making it crystal clear that they get to acknowledge their mistake to their peers who were most affected, and say how it will not happen again.
Three excellent points Kare. Thank you for sharing.
The science of leadership has definitely changed and evolved over time.
The opportunities for leaders that can embrace the art of connectivity are tremendous.
Oftentimes, when a client asks a question, I’ll respond by saying something like – “If you were coaching me, and I came to you with the same question, what advice would you give?” That question quickly engages people and makes them part of the solution.
These are all great points Kare.
I especially like #2 – cite a strong talent in each team member. This relates to me and my biz directly.
While I’m a one-man shop, I use this principle with my clients and those I’m mentoring.
For example, in our sessions, I hold people accountable to their goals and what they told me they would do. However, when something is missed, I spend more time highlighting and working with that which they were able to accomplish. There is no sense beating someone up over something they didn’t get to. Especially since they’ve probably already beaten themselves up enough.
If you cite the strong talent, and do a relatively deep dive, chances are, as the leader, you’ll have more influence and thus, more to build upon.
Thanks for sharing, you make 3 excellent points. Your 3rd point about be able to make mistakes really resonated with me.
We have found that many leaders do not let people make mistakes, people are in fear that if they do they will be fired. I was speaking with a CEO and spoke about Simon Sinek’s new book Leaders Eat Last. And the CEO commented that his key to success was allowing people to make mistakes and learning from them. Simon call’s this a Ring of Saftey.
We need more executives to create these rings of saftey, what have you found that works?
I relate to your comments, Kare! It is precious to help another to grow and realize their own self-worth,to recognize their own abilities to contribute to the greater society and to CONNECT to each other — be it that of the work team, the customers, or the global world! A wise leader gives the team a voice.