Leading with heart, why smart leaders put connection first

Oct 26, 2023

What does connection in your team look like right now? 


As a leader where is connection on your list of priorities?


If you are trying to do things to boost connection in your team but no one knows about it, it’s time to start bringing connection into your spoken ways of doing things and bringing your team along on the journey with you.


Why should leaders focus on connection?

Connection is the glue that holds teams together. It underpins trust, communication, collaboration, motivation, and adaptability. When team members are connected, they are more likely to work cohesively, leverage each other's strengths, and achieve results. Intentionally nurturing connections within your team is a critical aspect of creating and maintaining high performance.


Will connection just happen if you are not consciously creating space for it?  Probably. 

But it may only happen between certain team members who naturally gravitate towards each other or have commonality in how they like to do things.  What you want to create is connection across your whole team and this takes effort.


Here’s a snapshot of what you might be missing out on if you are not leading connection:

  • Team Morale and Engagement: When you establish a genuine connection with your team, you are creating a positive work environment where people feel valued and appreciated. This boosts morale and increases engagement, leading to higher productivity and job satisfaction.
  • Enhanced Communication: Strong connections lead to open and honest communication. Team members are more likely to share ideas, concerns, and feedback when they feel connected to their leader and their team. Effective communication is crucial for resolving issues, setting expectations, and achieving shared goals.
  • Increased Trust: Building connection is a fundamental step in building trust. When employees trust their leaders, they are more likely to follow their guidance, make themselves vulnerable to constructive feedback, and collaborate effectively as a team.
  • Loyalty and Retention: Employees are more likely to remain with an organisation when they have a strong connection with their leader. Leaders who invest time and effort into building genuine relationships are more likely to retain top talent and reduce turnover.
  • Adaptability and Resilience: In times of change or adversity, a strong team connection can provide stability and motivation. Team members who feel connected to their leader and colleagues are more likely to adapt to new challenges, stay motivated, and work cohesively to overcome obstacles.


So how do you build and maintain a strong connection with your team?  Here are my top ideas on how to do it:


  • Active Listening: Actively listen to your team members. Show genuine interest in their ideas, concerns, and opinions. When they feel heard, they will be more likely to open up and engage.
  • Empathy: Demonstrate empathy by understanding the impact decisions and interactions have on team members and acknowledge their perspectives.
  • Regular Feedback: Provide regular, actionable feedback. Recognise and celebrate achievements and challenge, offer guidance and support where improvement is needed. Check in regularly to show you are invested in their growth.
  • Open and Transparent Communication: Create an environment of open and transparent communication. Share information about the organisation's goals, challenges, and decisions. Encourage questions and address concerns honestly.
  • Support and Development: Show your commitment to your team's professional development. Provide opportunities for growth, offer mentorship, and support for their goals inside and outside of work.

Perhaps most importantly follow through; understand the role you play in delivering on all of these actions.  They all require two-way interaction, which means you and your team member both have responsibilities and accountabilities.


Building a strong connection with your team takes time and effort, but the benefits in terms of morale, productivity, and team cohesion are well worth it.


The role of connection in high-performing teams is integral and plays a crucial part in achieving results and sustained success.  As a leader intentionally creating opportunities for connection should be one of your top priorities. 

What action can you take to start intentionally building connection today?

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