The greatest of all leaders understand that methods, tools, technologies, protocols, and systems do not achieve results. People do. Therefore, it is people not processes, with whom organizational leaders must form a long-lasting, positive, emotional connection. This connection actually is a physical connection in people’s brains and is what ultimately determines the success or failure of the leader specifically and the organization as a whole. People do not connect and engage in their work at high levels of performance unless they are first connected and engaged with their leader. So here is a question to ponder: do the brains of your people light up in the high performance areas of their brains when you walk into the room or when you walk out?
People connect to their leaders before they connect to the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Staff members who feel a positive connection with their leaders are engaged, cooperative, collaborative, participative, accountable, and passionate about their work, and supportive of change. They are motivated to behave according to established expectations and to perform to the best of their knowledge, skill and ability. An organization with such a workforce can dominate any market or industry with consistent, high-quality clinical, financial and operational outcomes.
The principle of connection validates and puts into practice the concepts of self-awareness and collaboration. Selfawareness enables leaders to initiate connections with their team members, while trust and accountability – the imperative of collaboration – allow leaders to sustain these connections. In this way, connection is a strategy that influential leaders use to demonstrate they care for and understand the needs of their people. A deep connection between the leader and team members raises everyone’s level of energy, engagement, motivation and performance. Neurons (brain cells) that fire together, wire together, as the neuroscience data demonstrates. Hence, there is a neurochemical performance cocktail leaders can create in the brains of their people that drives performance based on the connection that leaders create with their team members.
Are Your Connections Positive or Negative?
Relationships, by their nature, require constant and consistent tending. The quality of care you put into these relationships translates into either a negative or a positive experience. That is, the other person perceives every one of your interpersonal exchanges and interactions as good or bad, supportive or unsupportive, trusting or untrusting, positive or negative, safe or unsafe, and so on. If you behave poorly during an interpersonal exchange, that experience is considered negative and the other person’s brain registers that encounter in experiential emotional memory (EEM); conversely, if you conduct yourself well, that experience is counted as positive.
This idea is similar to the emotional and trust bank accounts (discussed previously), in that connectivity has a cumulative effect in deposits and withdrawals. (See the Speed of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey for a more elaborate distinction on this concept.) The more these interactions are seen as negative, the less likely you are to develop connections. If you want to increase the positive experiences and thus enhance your connections, you must improve your individual leader behaviour. When you are ready to improve, start with the skill of Positive Presence, an innovative thought model connecting workplace behaviour to human energy and provides a systematic, programmatic methodology for equipping leaders with the knowledge and understanding necessary for developing and sustaining positive, effective thought and behaviour habits.
In this context, leaders are self-aware and serve as role models of responsible, professional behaviour. Team members, in turn, become highly collaborative in a responsive behaviour based on the how the brain processes experience relative to trust, compassion, safety, and hope. Consequently, team members understand what the organization is trying to achieve and how their behaviour and performance contribute to furthering the interests of the organization. Trust and accountability are not just expected; they become a cultural norm leading to higher performance. In a word, this connection creates the elements that foster engagement. Do not wait for performance issues to appear to discover the truth of these neuroscience principles. You mess with the brains of your people at your own performance peril!