Connected leaders have the pulse of an organization and its people.
In the medical world, your pulse determines your heart rate. According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy resting heart rate should be between sixty and one hundred beats per minute. Heart rates consistently too high are not good, consistently too low are not good, and irregular ones are certainly not good.
To be considered healthy, we need to regularly be within a good range. To do this, we should check our pulse consistently. Just checking it when we feel good or when we feel bad is not a quality indicator of the rhythm of our heart. A pulse is best measured with a connected device…a watch, stethoscope, heart rate monitor, or the good old-fashioned way…with two fingers applied to the wrist.
As leaders, we should have a pulse of our organization and the people. Having a pulse ensures that the heartbeat of our organization operates within a healthy range. It’s worth checking the pulse of the organization when things are good, when things are bad, and certainly if there are any irregularities. The pulse of our organization is best detected with a connected device, us…THE LEADER.
If we must be connected to detect the pulse of the team, how do we do that? It starts with connecting with the lifeblood of the organization, our people. Let’s take the lead from seven of our body parts:
Want to be a connected leader? It starts with our feet. Great leaders walk the hallways. They prioritize presence. Leaders who are present are more strongly connected to the pulse of the organization, because they have proximity to the people.
The feet are the first step in the measurement of an organization’s pulse. Leaders with presence are connected to the people.
The ability to listen is one of the most important attributes of a connected leader. Too often, humans listen to respond. The worst part is that the response is typically developed while the person is talking. This impedes our ability to connect.
I use this quote regularly in this blog and it certainly applies here. Simon Sinek says that, “Hearing is listening to what is said, listening is hearing what isn’t said.” When we listen at this depth, we listen empathetically and intuitively. We get a clear read on the pulse of the people through our ears. It connects.
I have coached kids for my entire adult life. I tell them at the first practice that, “you listen with two things, your ears and your eyes.” They usually don’t expect the eyes part. If they are not using their eyes to listen, they cannot fully connect the dots.
Great leaders make good eye contact. I strongly believe that eyes are the window to the soul. A leader can read so much about the condition of the human heart through the eyes. You can see stress, sorrow, disappointment, raw emotion, inspiration, and joy. The eyes enhance listening and help the leader connect the dots.
The mouth is used for verbal communication. One of the hardest things for a leader to do is to effectively communicate. No matter how much effort we apply, we can always communicate better.
A couple of things happen as we grow as leaders. One, the higher we go in the organization, the more our communication gets filtered. Just like the telephone game we all played in elementary school, the more the message is shared, the more it gets distorted. Sometimes, “straight from the horse’s mouth” is the best. There is less distortion and creates a stronger connection.
Two, we lead uniquely wired people. The same message is received in a variety of ways. Communication is more about how the message is received than how it is delivered. This makes effective communication so difficult.
Here is what the people we lead appreciate…effort. A leader who makes the effort to communicate, stays connected.
Hands get things done. People may listen to what we say, but they follow our actions. A leader who has a disconnect between their words and their actions loses their people. One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “Preach the gospel at all times and use words if necessary.” I read this in the book, 41, that George W. Bush wrote about his father. Bush said this was a motto that his father, George H.W. Bush, lived by.
Faith or no faith. We can preach standard operating procedures, core values, and mission statements all we want, but if we don’t live them out through our actions, we will become disconnected from those we lead. Connected leaders affirm their words with their actions, it keeps them connected.
Our faces can send unintended messages. Confession, I am an extremely focused individual. My DISC Behavioral Profile tells me that under moderate to extreme stress, I can appear “non-demonstrative.” I wasn’t a star student in my English classes, so I had to look this up in the Dictionary. It reads, “giving little outward expression of feeling; restrained; reserved. Basically, to others I can appear as if I don’t care! It could easily make me unapproachable and intimidating if I am not self-aware.
A simple laugh or smile can make a leader more human. Amid the chaos, conflict, and confusion that exists in leadership, we can easily appear distant if we are not careful. Our facial expressions can become stoic, serious, and stern. Unapproachable leaders have difficulty getting to the pulse of the people because the people don’t come to the leader. Approachable leaders are connected leaders.
Each of us possesses a unique fingerprint. Literally, no one else has the same one as us!
No doubt, we should study others, read books, listen to podcasts, and lectures. But, if we desire to be connected to our people, we must simply be authentically…us. Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
The best connector between leaders and their people is authenticity. Authenticity leads to relatability. Relatability makes us human. Being human creates a solid connection.
A good way to check the health of an organization is to give it a regular checkup. What does that look like? It looks like walking the hallways, genuinely listening, peering into souls with our eyes, leading with our actions, being approachable, and most of all being authentically us.
Regular checkups are preventative in nature. The best treatment to any disease is to catch it early. Health issues left undetected become untreatable and potentially fatal. In order to avoid our organizations receiving a terminal diagnosis, we need to stay connected to the people.
How’s the pulse of your organization? Are you a connected leader?