There are two types of connection in leadership. The first is being connected in a networking sense. Many leaders feel their influence is directly related to how many people they know throughout their professional and personal lives. By knowing the key people in a particular setting, these leaders feel they can exert their influence in the way of favors, leverage, or just being in an esteemed circle of people in order to obtain a desired result.
The second way of practicing connected leadership is in the relational aspect. Leaders who are connected in this manner work to develop meaningful working relationships across all people and business relations.
Leaders who focus on relational connections will seek out the best for both their organization and their people. They seek a mutual benefit for their customers, suppliers and business partners. These leaders get to know everyone as best they can at a personal as well as a professional level, show genuine concern for them, and make them feel valued at every interaction.
Network-connected leaders on the other hand look to manipulate their connections for their own individual outcome. They look at other people and organizations as a means to an end and rarely seek to deepen trust other than how it can work out to achieve a goal.
A good way to understand these types of leaders can be in looking at their various social media presences. There are those leaders who gain large LinkedIn or Twitter followers only to promote their brand or increase their perceived popularity and never get to know many of those they connect with. On the other hand, there are a good portion of leaders who have both large followings on social media and work hard to make meaningful connections with as many people as possible. They will not spam an automatic reply link as the other camp of leaders may do, but will over time cultivate a good solid connection in spite of the distance to build value to the relationship and the other person.
Building connections is essential for any leader, but building deep versus surface connections is the difference in having any real influence and sustainable credibility. So ask yourself today: Are you a truly connected leader?
More From Paul LaRue
Paul LaRue is the creator of The UPwards Leader and Instigator for Lead Change Group. His background in senior leadership, strategic planning, culture change, and people and organizational development gives him unique insight into the workings of successful organizations. Paul has given speeches and training sessions for many public and private entities and stresses the virtue of a culture that centers around core values and character in leadership.