Humans are born and wired for connection.
Reading time: 8 minutes
The second step to purpose driven leadership is all about connection, whereby I want to differentiate between two different topics:
- The mental connection to your thoughts, feeling and emotions.
- Your network. Who do you know or even more important who does know you?
It took a while to write this second step post. Let me tell you why.
In this current serious COVID-19 situation, with all the uncertainty, the fear, the prediction of the huge depression in front of us, I ask myself, is this really the time to write about growth. Therefore, I reached out to many of my friends, my colleagues and my family to get their points of view. They all told me that hope is the only thing that carry us into an uncertain tomorrow. Even after the darkest night a new morning will come. This even might be the right time to change models and rules, which are no longer reasonable, in the areas of economy, environment and humanity. More than ever, we need purposeful and sustainable leaders to lead us through these tough times and helps the society and the economy grow afterwards again in a more connected, equitable and environment friendly way.
This really encouraged me to continue on my way.
However, going forward I will emphasize more as initially thought, on connectedness, serve, resilience and give back.
Are you mentally connected?
The conductor of an orchestra is in charge the that the whole orchestra plays together well. He or she needs to understand the big picture what the intention of the composer and his musical opus was, why he has chosen the different instruments, how does the single instruments sound alone and all together. He must be mentally connected to the composer, the opus, the instruments and even the musicians.
Let us transfer this to a leadership role for a software development company. This leader must understand the software industry, the targeted markets, the roles, and responsibilities that it requires to build, sell, and maintain software. Further he must organize and structure his teams around that, figure out the best person for each job role. And finally, he must take care of his employees, recognize, and understand their concerns, their beliefs.
Simply said this leader need to be interested in all those things, the business related, but also the human being related ones. The leader does not need to be an expert in all the areas but needs to be connected to them.
Doing a job and not being mentally connected to causes stress for everyone and will not lead to any success. Only doing a job which does not fit to someone’s purpose and being disconnected is even worse.
What is connection?
Humans are born and wired for connection. This need is as strong as for food and water. A loving care-taking and secure relationship is essential in life, not only for babies. Our brains contain an ‘attachment system’ for others, starting with mum, dad, grandparents, friends, colleagues, and partners.
Social connection improves mental and physical health and emotional well-being. Belonging to a social group is an important part of our identity.
Connectedness means we are having a close relationship with other things and people.
Connected people believe that everything happens for a reason. They see themselves a part of a bigger picture, therefore they will not be harming others as this will harm themselves in the end. Those people know everything is connected.
Feelings, Emotions and Thoughts
Bevor connecting to others, it might be useful to be connected to ourselves.
Emotions are physical responses. They are instinctive and triggered like our reflexes, often because of an outside influence. They are lower-level responses occurring in the subcortical brain, the amygdala. Emotions help you fight when you are thinking you are in danger. They affect our bodies on a physical level, therefore we can objectively measure these, i.e., brain activity, blood flow, body language or facial micro-expressions.
Feelings are the result of how you interpret personal experience and their association with emotional experiences.
Emotions are biologically based and more instinctual, means there is not much variation from person to person. Feelings, however, vary between individuals because they are linked to individual associations and memories.
For example, if an employee unexpectedly lost his job his emotions might be anger, despairing or helpless. His feelings will depend on his unique situation. If he has wanted to quit for years, but never found the courage to do that, then losing his job could make him feel free or relieved.
Thoughts are the mental process. They are the link between the emotions and feelings. They are based on our beliefs, opinions, ideas. Your feelings are the results of how you think about an experience, means you can influence them with your thoughts: You can choose to feel brave rather than afraid.
What has this all to do with connectedness?
Basically, if we are not connected to your own feelings, emotions and thoughts, how can we be connected and lead other persons.
We do not respond to similar circumstances in the same way each day. One important thing I have learned during my coaching study. Before I respond to a situation, I always need to be aware of my current own mental condition. Am I angry, concerned, or peaceful and relaxed? Only when I am aware and connected to my own mental condition I can really start to connect to other persons and things and understand is it their concern or mine.
How you can connect to other persons and things?
Focus on the current, be fully present. Pay your full attention to the person, the situation or to the facts and issues. Do not let yourself distract from the past or the future. Stay in this moment. No judgements just observe. Do not search for solutions yet.
We can compare this with a problem-solving process. If we start too early to search for root, before we even know, what exactly the problem is, the developed solution might not help to solve the problem.
Be interested in the people, in the circumstances. People easily recognizes when you simulate interest only or just follow a guideline or process.
As we human are wired for connection, this gives us something back as leaders. Showing real interest, get close connected to others creates an incredible flow on both sides.
Sensing vs intuition
Some readers may have experience with the Meyers Briggs model. In this model the ‘Mastermind’ is categorized as INTJ, introvert, intuiting, thinking, and judging. The intuiting aspect makes it easy for them to see the big picture and predict the future. But does a leader not also need sensing capabilities, paying physical attention to the here and now? Seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling what is real, what is here and now.
Being an INTJ I always instantly can see patters, opportunities, the glory future. In the very beginning of my career, however I lost my team along the way, because they cannot see what I saw, therefore they did not understand where I was heading to. For one simple reason, I was not connected to the presence, to my team, to their questions, feelings, and concerns. I learned very quickly that seeing only the big picture does not always help to get there.
Law of attraction
The simple common translation of the law of attraction is that ‘like attracts like’. However, this term is most often overstated in various directions. It can’t create miracles, but still has some truth in it.
First, we always have the choice how you think, positively or negatively. We always have!
Second, I like to use the term self-fulfilling prophecy. Our thoughts express our beliefs and will determine our destiny (Gandhi). Applying that principle, the more positive we think and act, the more positive our destiny will be.
Third, if we become a great conductor of an orchestra, the likelihood of attracting excellent musicians is much higher. Great people want to connect to great leaders. And great leaders can help great people to grow even more. An excellent leader always chooses excellent people. A mediocrity leader always chooses under mediocrity people, they will not put his position into danger.
What is the purpose of your network?
Do you know this situation? Someone in a social network asks for a connection, ‘I saw your very outstanding profile and would like to connect to you’. Once agreed, the next day already you get messages with information about various products or special offers. Three days later, you get a reminder and so on and so on.
You might appreciate that information you might find it helpful, useless or even outrageous, depending on the role, you want to play in your network. If you an influencer it is mandatory to have loose, but a huge amount of connections. If you want to be perceived as an expert, you might value less but deeper connections.
Building or growing your business network, you should decide from the very beginning the role model you want to become and build your network based on that. Pay attention to each aspect in your profile to that, your photo, your title, the education and even your connections.
Give and take
A reliable network, in business as well as private, is characterized in a balanced give and take. Therefore, why you do not take the first step and give. Determine how you can help and serve others, with your expertise, your experience or with your connections. Whatever you give in your network it will come back to you manifold, not always from the same person you gave, but surely from others.
Building and growing a resilient network takes time and effort. Start early, because in most cases you must invest before you can get anything back.
Design your business network
This activity starts with a self-evaluation. Who you are, who you want to become? Which support do you need now and in the future along your way? Find out those connections and figure out how you can help them before you ask for their help. Supporting others will increase your reputation in your network and helps you to be known. The time works in favor with you if you start your network in early days. Your connections typically grow with you, in terms of expertise and career levels.
Build your private network
There are two aspects.
First, you need to get connected to people that helps you in specific areas, like lawyers, financial advisors, doctors, handcrafters, etc. It is always better that you select them carefully in times when you do not urgently need them.
Second, connect and surround you with people who are good for you. Do not look for any commercial benefits. Just people you like to spend your time with, to laugh, to exercise, to learn or simply relax.