BECOMING THE ATTENTIVE LEADER

In my blog Become the Leader you want to be Led by I looked at 5 things I believe every person wants to see in their leader.

Therefore, the 5 things we need to develop as leaders to be that leader. The first was, people want to be led by a strong leader. We covered this in more detail in my blog From weak and insecure to Strong Leadership.

The second attribute we all want to see in our leader, and therefore need to develop if we want to be that leader people want to be led by is ATTENTIVENESS.

Leadership is not simply “produce a vision and then give people what they need to fulfil it”.

If our definition of a leader is “one who brings a positive directive influence on someone else’s life”, then we are talking about leadership that ‘moves’ people.

This is more about who you are than what you do. Therefore :

INFLUENCE IS NEVER HELD IN YOUR POSITION BUT IN YOUR CONNECTION

The question, then, is not ‘do you have a leadership position?’, but ‘are you a leader?’ Because leadership is not a job we do it is who we are.

People need YOU. Not primarily for your suggestions, information, and instructions. They simply need YOU in their world. AND you need them.

People should be moved by your leadership – not simply emotionally, but primarily in their lifestyle, actions and outcomes.

There is only one way to do this – CONNECT. Leaders must develop great connection skills. ‘CONNECT THAT MOVES’.

There are 3 vital directions of our connections :

1. Connecting up

2. Connecting out

3. Connecting down

In this blog we are focusing on connecting ‘down’, to those we are responsible for. However, try rating yourself on how well you are doing in proactively connecting up to the person overseeing you, coming to them to seek input; and how well you are connecting out to peers, establishing strong working relationships.

So how do we connect in such a way that moves people to collaboration?

1. CONNECT IS INVOLVED

– Don’t pigeon-hole your life.

Be flexible with your team, availability is connective. Don’t always work to appointments, so there is an element of the personal. You can only do this to a small circle you are investing in otherwise you lose control of your productivity.

Be inclusive, involve them in your world. Your home and your activities are the greatest contexts for connect. Connect over dinner, in your home and include people in the things you are doing, even during your downtime. Connecting by doing an errand together, shopping, sport, DIY, are all moments of deepening relationships that move people.

2. CONNECT IS INTENTIONAL

– Communicate more than you think you need to.

Communicate frequently, using all means possible – face to face, telephone, sms, email and any other means you can find. Quantity is an aspect of quality.

Leaders cannot afford to say “I don’t like sms, or voicemail, or …” They are all essential tools for leading and communicating well.

When at an event together, notice them.

An email saying ‘Can you take a look at this …’ is collaborative. An SMS saying ‘Thinking about you this morning’ goes a long way.

Our perception of how much we encourage is nearly always higher than those receiving it. So encourage more than you think you need to.

– Pay attention

Watch for points of connection, watch for signs of need, watch for ways you can connect meaningfully. A throw away comment from someone can give an indication of something you can follow-up on.

“The children have been unwell this week, they’ve been keeping us up” Follow this up the next day with an SMS, “How are the kids today, any improvement?”

These are simple, but intentional and effective points of connection.

3. CONNECT IS INFLUENTIAL

Into the connection a leader inserts a moment that moves people. This could be :

– To pray for them

For a need they have shared; or simply for impartation or to bless them. So keep your own prayer life alive, frequent and meaningful, so you always have something to give.

– To listen to them

You connect by listening. People feel they have connected deeply when they have been given an opportunity to talk. When you listen you get an opportunity to be in awe of something in their world. Awe creates a deepening connection.

Listening gives time to fill the space between you with carefully chosen emotions. It stops you jumping into the space with default reactions – offence, awkwardness, bias, or other ‘first instinct’ reactions. It helps create wise responses.

– To challenge them

Challenge them to start something you think will be good for them; to increase something they are already doing; to stop or change something they’re doing.

Talk about ‘the elephant in the room’ – don’t ignore what you’re becoming aware of. Open up these conversations. How to do this will be the topic of another blog!

– To inspire them

The Bible inspires – share something that has caught your attention recently, bring an inspiration to them, in a natural way. Share what you have been learning about leadership recently. Share stories about things that builds your combined purpose and downloads DNA.

Of course we connect simply to build the relationship, we connect to download DNA, we connect to help them see our world, we connect to engage them in activity, ask questions and build collaborations, we connect

because its good for our soul. But we are leaders, so we connect also to move people on. So meaningful connection opens people up for you to help them achieve their purpose, it opens you up to inviting them to be part of what you need to fulfil the big purpose; it creates collaboration.