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Are You Connected or Connecting?

There is nothing wrong with being technologically connected, so long as it doesn't keep you from making honest, personal connections in real life.

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Most of us are so technologically connected that we couldn’t disconnect even if we tried. Many of us fear having to stare down that dark tunnel of technology withdrawal. What I am talking about, however, is connecting versus being connected.

We live in a high-tech world but leadership is still a high-touch job. At the risk of being accused of being old school, here is a simple way to create real connections with your team, and anyone else for that matter. These are the kinds of connections of which winning relationships are made. There are three main components: Question, Common Ground, Compliment. I call it QC². It's a simple tool to initiate connections--human being to human being.

Question - Asking questions is the least used and most powerful leadership tool you have. Asking questions is selfless and self-serving at the same time. It demonstrates interest in your team while providing you with insights into someone else’s world--their motivations, passions, challenges, assumptions, and aspirations. Once you ask, make sure you listen. Don’t ask if you won’t listen--that’s the fast track to employee cynicism. Leaders who really connect listen at least 50 percent of the time...and most of the remaining time they are asking questions. Keep it simple by asking things like:

•    How can I help you?
•    What type of project gets you really excited?
•    When do you feel like you are in the zone?
•    What’s one thing you would change to improve your work process?
•    What’s your vision for this project?
•    What would you like to do less of?

Common Ground - If you are diligent about asking questions you will naturally find common ground. Find common ground as a platform for building a relationship or even a bridge to mend a relationship. When you really observe, watch, ask, listen, it’s easy to find things in common. This is more about your mindset than it is about reality. Consider two people who are at odds and walk away from negotiations as a lost cause. Then a mediator walks in and quickly finds a win-win solution. The contentious parties are focusing on differences while the mediator is focused on commonalities.  

Compliment - We do more for those who appreciate us. As long as your compliments are sincere and meaningful, you can pile them on. A sincere compliment is the quickest way to turn an enemy into an ally, a frown into a smile and resistance into acceptance. Look for things your team members are doing right. In addition, look inside of them to find a trait you admire. Are they punctual? Creative? Well-dressed? Optimistic? Intuitive? Selfless? Do they have high integrity? There are abundant opportunities to sincerely compliment your team members for who they are and for their performance.

Old school or new school, sometimes the basics work best. Forget about connecting through T1 lines, next generation networks, and Wi-Fi. Use QC² to really connect!

Read free book chapters from the author's book Leadership Matters for more insights and inspiration.

Last updated: Jan 22, 2014

LEE COLAN is founder of The L Group, a consulting firm that equips and inspires leaders at every level. He is a leadership adviser and presenter of practical ideas, and a Thinkers 50 nominee for Top Management Thinker of 2013. Colan has also written 12 books, including the best-selling Engaging the Hearts and Minds of All Your Employees. His latest book is Stick With It: Mastering the Art of Adherence.
@LeeColan




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