Today, a job is not just something that people do to make money for their family’s survival. Employees need a job which gives them a sense of purpose, is in line with their passions and utilises their talents. Cultivating an innovative organisation requires leaders to know their employees so deeply, that they are able to meet their career needs and feel connected to them through honesty, loyalty and trust (Marsh, 2019). A connected leader knows how to engage on a personal level, can foster innovation and collaboration, is proactive and calm-under pressure possesses strong self and social awareness and welcomes change (Dewan, 2018).
Employees who feel connected to their leaders are more engaged, more productive and less likely to leave for a competitor (Stallard, 2017). The need for an engaged and participative workforce has never been so strong as it is today. Companies require a labour force which learns together and practices active curiosity. This is only achievable when leaders cultivate connection and engagement as part of the culture and daily practices of their organisation (Jarche, 2016). To ensure success, it is vital that leaders embrace their human side and are not afraid of being vulnerable. Being open about any personal and professional challenges, passions and opinions can help build more connected and real relationships.
When consulting with managers within struggling organisations, I often find them employing the infamous autocratic approach to leadership. This method is designed to be commanding and controlling and to them, seems like the only method to achieve results and hit targets. Unfortunately, in the process, they lose out on open and honest communication from their team. Employees begin to hold back potentially valuable ideas, focus on their own interests, lose sight of the vision of the organisation and stop being of service to others unless they are forced to be reactive in times of crisis.
The most successful companies can become less impressive after a harmful change in leadership. Leaders shouldn’t only develop their technical competencies (horizontal development), but their self-awareness, empathy, vulnerabilities, honesty, listening and motivational skills (Petrie, 2011). This vertical development can help in creating an organisation who trusts their leader and one that will support them in their vision, strategies and decisions. These are the things that will create teams who take initiative, rise to the challenge, seize ownership and responsibility of any necessary tasks and are more interested and connected with others in the organisation.
Dewan, M. (2018, June 25). 5 Characteristics of a Connected Leader. Retrieved from Medium: https://medium.com/the-looking-glass/5-characteristics-of-a-connected-leader-a4ff71ef92e
Jarche, H. (2016, March 9). What is connected leadership? Retrieved from Harold Jarche: https://jarche.com/2016/03/what-is-connected-leadership/
Marsh, E. (2019, July 9). The psychology of connected leadership. Retrieved from T-Three: https://www.t-three.com/soak/insights/the-psychology-of-connected-leadership
Petrie, N. (2011). Future Trends in Leadership Development. Greensboro: Center for Creative Leadership.
Stallard, M. (2017). Connection Culture. Alexandria: ATD Press.