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Connection – Leading Your Team Through Trying Times

Connecting with those you lead – 4 tips

Note: This is the second in a series of posts in moving your team through difficult things. I wrote as our world is in the midst of a virus (COVID-19) that is changing everything. Leadership has never been more important. See the last post and first in the series – “Gratitude – Leading Your Team Through Trying Times.”


If you can’t connect with people, you can’t lead people.

Leading your team through trying times requires that you focus on connecting with people individually and collectively. Connection is at the heart of what leaders do. Trust and loyalty are dependent on your ability to do it well.

Here are four specific things you must do to keep that important connection with your people.

1. Smile, be kind and provide hope. Okay, I know this seems simple, but I put it first in this list for a reason 🙂

People look at leaders in uncertain times for signs that everything will be okay. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t transparent – because transparency is an important key to trust – but it does mean that you smile, are kind and provide hope.

Leaders who can weather storms with a smile, kindness and hope, become an endearing beacon to their teams and organizations that never loses its light.

2. Use their name. I continue to be amazed at the number of people, including many leaders and people I know personally, who fail to use a person’s name when they talk.

Not using someone’s name already disconnects you from them before you have the chance to connect.

Dale Carnegie once said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” That being the case, why wouldn’t you use the sweetest and most important sound in any language in your conversation with others?

Think for a minute the times someone used your name and the times someone didn’t. Did it feel different? Of course it did. Take the time to remember names, it’s worth every bit of effort in your existing relationships, as well as those you are trying to establish.

3. Listen. Next to hearing their name, those you lead want to feel they are heard. During times of adversity and uncertainty what you are listening for most on a personal basis is what people are feeling.

Asking sincere questions about how they are feeling and then intently listening will create strong connections with you as their leader. Sometimes they just want to talk, other times they want to hear your thoughts – but listening well enough to know what they need is your responsibility and gift to them.

4. Be vulnerable. We connect best with those who are willing to share. What used to be seen as a weakness in leadership; vulnerability is being seen more and more as a strength of leaders.

You ability to say things like, “You know, I struggled with that at one time as well.” Or, “Can you help me with this?” allows those you lead to see you as human. And since connection is built on our humanness, what could be more important than opening up.

Watch the following short video around research on “being human” and believable.