The bottom line is: you can’t lead if you can’t connect.

Here are 7 must-haves for every leader, in order to make great connections.

  1. Understand your values. Your values create your beliefs, and guide your decisions in every aspect of your life and business. When you understand your core values, you will have a clear understanding of what’s important to you and why. That means you will be able to articulate your beliefs much more clearly. Clarity makes everything better, and the people who believe what you believe will follow you gladly.
  2. Cultivate your personal brand. Once you understand your core values, you can build your personal brand, and measure how effective it is. Your brand is simply what people say about you when you aren’t in the room. Is what they are saying, matching with what you want them to say and with your values? If not, you have some work to do.
  3. Communicate in various styles. Communication is simply the reaction you get when you talk with someone. If you don’t like the reaction, you need to adjust your communication style. Shouting the same words louder, or saying the same thing over and over again isn’t effective. The person who can adjust their style to suit the other person’s communication needs will be more likely get their point across. That is the person who is going to come out on top. Great leaders get this.
  4. Be able to interpret body language. This is a great skill for everyone to learn. We are always communicating, even when we aren’t speaking. When you know how to read someone’s body language, you will know when he or she is feeling comfortable or uncomfortable in any conversation. When you see discomfort, you have the option to ask questions to get more information about how the person is feeling. The more information you have, the better off you are as a leader.
  5. Know how to create value. In order for you to reach someone and be able to influence them, you have to know what he or she values. When you know what they value, you can speak to them in a way that connects to those values. Swaying someone’s opinion, getting them to buy into a change, or having them understand you better, becomes a lot easier when you know exactly what creates value for them. That all comes from your ability to communicate, engage your curiosity, and ask questions that give you a better understanding of the person in front of you.
  6. Listen and observe. Great leaders are great listeners. They are also great observers. When you are truly listening to another person, you will start to build trust. We all know when someone is just waiting to say what he or she wants to say, and not really listening. Real listeners make the other person feel good, which is a truly great trait in a leader. The leader who is also a great observer will pick up clues in the environment and in that other person’s body language, giving them more information to work with and truly connect with that person. Again, more information is a great thing to have in a leadership position.
  7. Be consistent. Consistency builds trust. You must have trust if you want to lead well. We all know people who say one thing and do another. No one likes it. As a leader, you must act consistently all the time, because the way you do anything is the way you do everything in the eyes of the people watching you. It doesn’t matter if you are under stress or having a great day, you still need to react in a way your followers can rely on, all the time, every time. Which really brings us back to point #1 and your values. Act in a way that’s consistent with the values you hold close, and consistency will be an easy thing to deliver.

Put these 7 must-haves together, and you have the makings of one credible and incredible leader.

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