When I was twenty-one years old, I attended my first national sales meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. As a new teammate, I was trying to fit in. A large group of leaders hit the casinos for a little gambling. I wanted to connect and “be cool,” so I joined the group and started gambling.
Our first stop was the blackjack table, and I quickly realized that I was in over my head. I lost $100 within twenty minutes. I stepped away from the table, feeling the sting of my attempt at being in “the room where it happened.”
Hamilton references aside, we’ve all been there. Trying to fit in. Wanting to make a good impression. It’s tempting to fast-forward the time it takes to build authentic connections, but the only thing that’s fast about relationships is how quickly they break down when you’re not yourself.
Consider these three reminders for creating genuine connections at work:
Look under the hood
You’ve heard me talk about the importance of discovering your why in the context of work and life. Knowing your purpose isn’t only about having direction so you inform great choices; exploring your why also allows you to look under the hood and understand what inspires and resonates with you—both great indicators of who you are as a person. This self-awareness helps you attract connections that support who you want to be as a leader and determine what relationships you want to invest in.
If you’re truly comfortable in your own skin, developing authentic camaraderie comes easier. A study of nearly 5,000 participants reveals that 95 percent of leaders believe they are self-aware when only 10 to 15 percent fit the criteria. If you’re interested in exploring how to cultivate your why or your internal self-awareness about your purpose and your passion, listen to this brief live chat I recently recorded on LinkedIn.
Get in the game
Be the player your team can confidently count on when they need you. They have a better chance of connecting with you if you offer a consistent style of leadership that comes from an identity they can depend on. With consistency, trust grows more easily and employees are likely to reciprocate. Being a consistent leader empowers your team to work more efficiently because they can anticipate your behavior. Without dependability, employees waste precious time and energy responding to the peaks and valleys of a leader’s unanticipated swings. A natural precursor of consistency, of course, is achieving clarity: establishing when deliverables need to happen, what needs to be completed, and how things get done. Get a head start on this strategy with my workbook, “Leading with Clarity.”
Build on common ground at work
Wondering where to start? Get in the right mindset by remembering the goal: being yourself at work is about forming trust and cultivating collaboration. Start building genuine connections by sharing stories or anecdotes that relate to the work you’re doing. This is great territory that naturally moves on to other subjects about yourself and others. Vulnerability is an excellent way to build a foundation with your team. “Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process,” says Daring Greatly author Brené Brown. If you aren’t willing to self-disclose, team members will mirror your tone and keep communication at a social distance.
If you want to feel like you’re in the room where it happens, establish self-awareness by looking under the hood, get in the game by giving your teammates consistency, and create common ground with relevant disclosure.
Live your why,
P.S. Thank you again for all the positive reviews of my new book, Uncompromising. If you’d like to explore my seven pathways for leading a more fulfilling life, purchase your copy today and join some of the conversations I’ve recently had about my message.