Any number of books and speakers (including me) will tell you that a leader’s responsibility is to manage change, set direction, inspire their teams, and the list goes on.
Left from the list of “must do’s” is another mandate that a leader must take to heart.
A leader must bond with everyone on the team.
Why bond? Because when a leader bonds with those he or she leads, that team member is less likely to behave in ways that would disappoint the leader.
When leaders create an emotional connection to themselves and to the work, the workers buy into the leader’s vision. Anyone can follow, but who wants to follow a leader with whom they have little connection?
“Your employees will not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
We are all looking for a connection to our work. That connection can start with leadership. Bonding is the way the connection takes root. Without a bonding effort, leaders are missing opportunities to unleash creativity and heart. Left unaddressed, those workers will seek opportunities elsewhere.
Bonding with employees is not the same as bonding with other people in your life. I bond with my wife differently than I bond with my son. I bond with my friends differently than I bond with my sister.
If you’ve read this far, you are probably asking: “How am I supposed to bond with my team?”
Leadership retreats, ropes courses, etc. are all good ways to bond, but that is not what I mean. Those are short term, event-based approaches that don’t last long even under the best circumstances. Bonding with employees is not an event, it is a process.
Start bonding with the easy methods. Smile (at everyone, often). Look everyone in the eye. Shake hands, give high fives, fist bumps. Take time with everyone so you understand them as a person outside of the work context. Share yourself with them. Let them understand who you are outside of the office. Have fun. You can be absolutely serious about the work, without being serious about yourself.
It’s time to start breaking down the barriers rooted in antiquated notions of the “professional boundaries” that have stifled the human connection that we all need…even at work.