Everyone is looking to belong. If you look closely at almost any invention, underneath it is an attempt to enhance connection. Connection with people, places and things. Connection gives us a sense of belonging. If good leadership is the ability to inspire people and achieve bigger and better together, you cannot do that without connection.

What does connection mean in the work context? To be able to inspire and motivate people you must understand them first. This understanding can only come if you connect with them at a human level. Yes, our day to day busy existence with a long list of to-do lists, deadlines and meetings is a perfect excuse to hide from actually connecting with team members and co-workers - alternately it is also an opportunity really get to know what drives them. Consciously and deliberately connecting with people improves relationships.

Why is it worth the effort? Not only is it more fulfilling for you as a person to have good relationships at work but it is also suitable for business. With average employee engagement scores worldwide at just 15%, ignoring the human need of belonging poses serious business risks. As an example, a research done by analytics firm Gallup with U.S. employees indicates that only two out of 10 employees strongly agree to having a best friend at work, however, if that ratio increased to six in ten, organisations could realise 12% higher profit, 36% fewer safety incidents and 7% more engaged customers. For a country like India, which has a culture that prioritises relationships, it is bound to be higher.

As a leader to inculcate a healthy culture trust, connection and belonging are the foundational layers. Trust is a pre-requisite for connection. Without trust, people will not open up to you to bond, and without connection, it is only a matter of time before any sense of belonging to that leader or employer dissipates, and your team members start looking for a job elsewhere.

So how can you build a connection with people at work seamlessly? If you can do the following two simple yet difficult things the dynamics within your team is bound to improve.

Listen actively

A fundamental skill for connection is listening actively – with complete presence and without judgment. You can only do this if you respect people for who they are, appreciate their differences and be really curious about them. It is about hearing what they are feeling.

Connect with yourself first

Connection with others is more natural if you have a deeper relationship with self. As a coach, I notice most challenging problems that frustrate my clients are due to a weaker connection with an understanding of their own needs, values, fears, and beliefs. The better you connect with yourself, the more confidence it gives you in your own capabilities, vision and decision making.

If a business is about developing relationships, then connection is the key. Think about what you can do to deepen your connection with yourself and that will show you the path to be able to do this with others and become a better leader in that process.

Bhavna Dalal
Bhavna Dalal

Views are personal.

The author is the founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners, a global Leadership Development company based in Bangalore. She is a leadership development specialist, an ICF Certified Executive Coach [PCC] and author of the book - Team Decision Making.

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