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  • Writer's pictureKim Catania

Connecting to Inspire

I believe that everyone yearns to hear that something they’ve done or said made a positive difference in the life of another person. That kind of inspirational nature, sadly though, is elusive to many people, especially professionals who desire to motive their teams to greatness. Many leaders communicate when they should be connecting. In John Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates Few Connect, he notes that exceptional communicators who connect with others inspire meaningful action, increase influence, improve productivity, and stand apart from other leaders. So let’s explore three components to help us understand how to improve in this area.

Hear and Understand

Recently my family took a trip to Italy. We were all very excited for the trip and, while we packed everything we could think of that we would need, we paid very little attention to studying the language in our overall preparation. In Rome where the tourist traffic is high, finding English speakers was not a problem. However, once in the Tuscan countryside, we found it more difficult to communicate. There is nothing worse than trying to get your point across with someone who just can’t understand.

As leaders and professionals, we transact business with people on a daily basis who need to be heard and understood. Poor communicators only focus on the information that they want to convey and their own needs. As a result, others take action not because they are inspired to do so, but rather based on the power, position, or strength of the communicator. Skilled connectors, however, invest the time to earnestly listen first, learn from others, and seek to understand critical situations from another perspective. Inspirational leaders who connect at a high level convey to others a sense of value and gratitude for their contribution.

Are You For Real?

Another quality of a person who inspires others to meaningful action is authenticity. It is clear that they really believe what they are saying, and they find it easy to communicate in a genuine and transparent manner. They are not seeking to influence people to make decisions for their own good or personal advancement, rather they honestly seek the good and advancement of those around them. They nurture relationships built on trust and they steward that trust as a prize. They hold themselves accountable to others and welcome others to inspect their convictions, their character, and their conduct both personally and professionally.

Model What You Mandate

Lastly, and closely tied to authenticity, is an attitude of demonstration. If you want your team to develop the attributes of a skilled connector, then model them and illustrate to others what good looks like. Speak to someone face to face instead of taking the often-easier way out of email or text. Invest some time espousing your confidence in another person without following it up with a request. If you lead a team, intentionally display your gratitude for them in a way that is personally meaningful. Let them know you have high expectations for them and tell them why.

As John Maxwell says, “Talent isn’t enough. Experience isn’t enough. To lead others, you must be able to communicate well, and connecting is the key.”

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