In the past, when someone thought of a business leader, a warm and welcoming personality was not usually something that readily came to mind. The cold, unfriendly, and aloof management attitudes of the 60s, 70s and 80s have changed dramatically in the past two decades. A leader who can’t smile, speak the language of his or her followers, or connect on a human, heart-to-heart level, will more than likely be removed from any position of leadership.
Have you noticed today’s leaders? They’re connectors. They network. They don’t sequester themselves in offices and make themselves inaccessible to their constituency. Instead, they are actively involved at events, in the media, and even guest on popular TV shows. While some of that behavior is certainly distracting and detracting, and occasionally inappropriate for their leadership role, the main point is that they’re just being human – enjoying themselves like anyone else. They’re being a “part of” something. They’re breaking free of the command and control model of yesteryear.
Nowadays, leadership calls for a new paradigm, one that comes from a more compassionate and collaborative perspective. Today, business is all about connecting with others. It’s about collaboration and being authentic without being narcissistic, egotistical, or arrogant. If you want to be a successful leader, then you must lead from the trenches. Your experiences must be like those of your followers. If you don’t know what it’s like to work in the trenches of your organization, then you certainly can’t effectively lead it from some high, lofty, and disconnected corner office.
How do you connect with others? How do you show others that you care about them and what they’re interested in? What specifically do you do to make environments friendly, inviting, and collaborative?
“Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.” — Warren Bennis
Tara Kachaturoff is the creator, producer and host of Michigan Entrepreneur TV, a weekly television talk show featuring business leaders and businesses from start-up to stellar. With over 15 years of experience in corporate finance in the tech sector, she now coaches executives, business professionals, and entrepreneurs on leadership, management, productivity, and marketing issues. Tara is also the author of 21 Qualities of a Leader from which this article is excerpted.