Effective Leaders Connect First

According to an article in Harvard Business Review, “Connect, Then Lead”, it is far more effective to lead in business when you begin by establishing warmth and understanding. Yet, many leaders today approach business focusing first on strength and competence. If this sounds backwards to you, it is possible you are in the group that may have an issue – I know prior to all the research we have done on this topic that I did not get it right either.

Without first building a foundation of trust, it is hard for others to listen to your ideas, say yes, and follow.

Is it possible that a focus on more warmth, understanding and connecting with those we work with would help us lead better, sell more, and have our ideas heard quicker? In other words, would connecting first lead to greater profitability? I certainly have found this to be true while observing and conducting research for the book, The Connectors. Although most businesspeople demonstrate strength – warmth and connecting contributes significantly more to others’ evaluations of us, idea sharing, and trust.

So how do you cultivate warmth and connecting? Here are 3 tactics for improving your warmth:

1. Smile. People with warmth smile. And when you smile, the other person often smiles back. It is a natural reaction. But it must be authentic so find a reason to think “happy” because this simple act will change the dynamics of the interaction and leave a powerful first impression.

2. Listen first and listen more. The act of listening shows you care more prolifically than most any other action. And it is truly the lost art today in this ultra-connected and distracted world.

3. Positive body language. Do not close up by crossing your arms and instead find reasons to hold your arms open. Do not stand hunched, but stand straight and lean in to the person you are speaking with. It shows interest and yes, warmth.

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