If you are like me and you’re always looking for ways to become a better leader, I’d highly recommend reading the book The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leaders Day by John C. Maxwell. It’s based off of another of his books: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Maxwell employs Biblical stories to illustrate the Laws of Leadership. David and Goliath, Samson, Paul, and others become examples of strength in leadership or lack thereof, either helping their people to prosper or to decline. (I’ll continue to lean on this book for some of my upcoming blogs, as well.)
The Law of Connection
Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I have always heard the mantra “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” When I was reading the Law of Connection I was brought back to those words. The chapter opens with “All Great LEADERS have one thing in common: they connect with people.” Maxwell uses the story of King Rehoboam to illustrate what happens when you don’t connect with people. If you’re not familiar with the story here’s a summary: After King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king. Jeroboam and his people came out of hiding and asked to be a part of the community again. Rehoboam talked to the Elders and they said, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servant.” Instead of listening to the Elders, he chose to still oppress Jeroboam and his people. Instead of building a connection and uniting the people, he created an even larger divide between them. If he had really listened to the Elders and to his people and connected with them, they would have respected him more. While this is an oversimplification of the verses of the Bible, it illustrates how leadership grows or dies based on the level of connection the leader has with those who follow him.
Bosses Who Either Connect or Not
We have all been there — had the boss that doesn’t listen to anyone and is just there to check a box so he/she can get promoted. Everyone in the office knows that person doesn’t care about them and is only there to get himself rewarded. Hopefully, we have all also had the type of boss that is well loved. He or she is the boss that gets to know people – not only their names, but those of their spouses. This is the type of boss who, even when he/she has to make tough calls where everyone isn’t happy with the outcomes, is still respected.
These two types of bosses produce very different outcomes. While the boss who doesn’t care may be able to get people to do what he wants, his workers will only meet minimum expectations because they don’t feel appreciated. The highly personable and favored boss, who has developed personal connections with his people, instills a sense of “we’re winning” among his employees, where each feels he/she is contributing to a team that benefits them personally as well, rather than only benefiting the boss. They feel emotionally invested in the leader and will run through a brick wall for them. This organization will function higher than the former simply because the people feel a part of the process, and not outsiders to it.
This reminds me of a story back in my B52 career. I was the head of the Comm Shop out in Barksdale. One day I was informed that I was being sent someone whom “I needed to keep an eye on.” When this person arrived, I immediately started to build a connection with her. I soon learned that her previous boss was a micromanager, who was supremely impersonable and didn’t know how to deal with people. Suffice to say, this woman excelled in my shop and managed every task given to her. She even came up with projects to better the squadron as a whole. If I had continued the actions of her previous boss, not listening to her and micromanaging her, this would not have been the outcome. She was invested in our connection and the trust I had built with her. The shop’s win was no longer “Sam’s win;” the shop’s win was now ”Our Win.”
Building a Solid Foundation for Leadership
Leaders of Organizations and Teams, if you want to build a solid foundation where people respect you even when you have to make tough decisions, where subordinates and followers actively work with a “We Win” Mentality, then you have to build those connections. How do you start that? First, say “Hi” to all your people. Then get to know them and get to know their names. That’s one of the simplest things a person of influence can do that will boost them to “Super Boss” status. I remember a time when I was beginning in my business and I began to introduce myself to one of my mentors, who didn’t even know he was my mentor at the time and whom I had only met once or twice before. As I was introducing myself he stopped me by finishing my name for me and saying he remembered me. That small gesture of knowing my name cemented my trust in his leadership because this gentleman led teams of about 50k -80k people! So if you want your people to be rock solid about your leadership ability, get to know them and build those connections.
For more information on how to build connections feel free to email me.