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Connect the Dots

I consider myself a pretty voracious reader. I am pretty much a sucker for a good business, HR or leadership book. LinkedIn and Twitter are great because they are a never ending supply of bite size pieces of content for me! I also like to share, with my network, articles that I come across. Quite often, something I share strikes a chord with at least one person in my immediate network. This then usually results in some great discussion. Typically what hits a nerve with my broader audience is something pertaining to leadership tips, tricks, etc. Everyone wants to know what the secret ingredient is to being a good leader. Man, if I had the “right” answer to that, I would write a book! (Oh, the irony.)

connect_the_dotsHowever, I have experience in coaching and developing leaders so this did get me thinking a bit more about the topic. Obviously there are many characteristics, in my opinion, that make up a great leader. I don’t want to get into a laundry list of this here, but if I had to capture everything into one phrase, I would say that a good leader’s job/responsibility is to connect the dots for their staff. This is purely based on my own observations, as well as direct and indirect experience(s) coaching leaders and being in leadership positions myself.

When you think about it though, that phrase pretty much covers everything in the leadership toolbox. You need to be able to connect the dots to the corporate vision, the business plan and to department and individual goals. You need to connect the dots with your employees as it pertains to how they contribute towards the success of these organizational goals and objectives. You need to connect the dots for your employees in terms of how the work that they do will lead to personal/professional success for them. You need to connect the dots for your staff in terms of their career development – i.e. how they go about improving and positioning themselves for future roles. Finally, you need to connect the dots for them in terms of how/why organizational changes are for the greater benefit of the company and ultimately the employee. Stewarding your staff through times of change is basically one big exercise in connecting the dots! That is what leaders do!

A great leader that is able to connect the dots is skilled at communication and coaching. They show their employees vs. “tell” them. They help engage staff through the act of making these connections. A great leader is involved and present with their employees in order to be able to be a “connector” for them. So if you don’t communicate, don’t/can’t coach and/or aren’t present with your staff, it is going to be pretty hard to help connect anything for your employees.

So, the next time you are wondering what it takes to be a great leader, or if you are wondering if you are doing the “right things,” just ask yourself, “Am I connecting the dots for my staff?” If you aren’t, then you need to re-focus (see above areas). If you are, carry on my friend, you are doing a great job! As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

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