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How to Be a Connected Leader?

By Numly - Leadership Coaching Group
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The world has been in the midst of a perfect storm with economic uncertainty, digital disruption, and massive market and societal changes. Obviously, these aspects are also upending the world of work. Rising attrition rates and the unprecedented way in which the COVID-19 pandemic upended the world of work have also been fanning the flames. 

In times like this, connected leadership becomes vital to drive business growth and help organizations move from the fight or flight and survival mode to the thriving mode. 

Along with these, rising customer expectations, ever-changing technology trends, evolving user expectations, business model disruption, resource scarcity, differing board, and stakeholder opinions, etc. are creating new challenges for organizations. To navigate these challenges, leaders need to be connected to those within the organization and the outside world. 

This complex and unpredictable world of today needs leaders 

  • Who can inspire and lead the workforce. 
  • To be highly skilled and building and managing change and developing effective relationships around them. 
  • To help teams connect and develop belonging in a hyper-connected and yet equally distanced world. 
  • Who can connect with themselves, their teams, and the world around them. 
  • To take cognizance of the massive shifts in values, attitudes, and mindsets, particularly toward diversity and inclusion.

Change has become an organic part of the vocabulary of every business across industries. The connected leader helps organizations adapt without overwhelm. Such a leader helps them tolerate distress and thrive by identifying and creating opportunities amidst turmoil and uncertainty.

As the world moves from the ‘survival of the fittest’ to the ‘survival of the most agile’ mode, becoming a connected leader demands a close focus on oneself. 

Here are a few things to do to become a connected leader –

Develop self-awareness 

Connected leaders are defined by their high levels of self-awareness. 

Self-awareness allows leaders to 

  • Support and inspire their teams 
  • Enhance their strategic decision-making capabilities 
  • Recognize what one feels and allows people to drive personal growth and accountability
  • Become more conscious of their thoughts, mindsets, belief systems, and both conscious and unconscious biases 
  • Become more responsive and less reactive to situations around them. 
  • Remain grounded, attuned, and focused which enables them to be efficient and deliberate in staying on task and being attuned to those around them

Demonstrate a love for continuous learning 

To become connected leaders, it is important to move from a ‘know-it-all’ to a ‘learn-it-all’ mindset. As the disruption in the world of work shows no signs of abating, leaders have to also accept that knowledge becomes immense power in these times. 

However, along with technical knowledge and know-how, leaders need to work closely on developing their critical skill sets and new leadership habits. The best leaders in this world are the ones who are constantly curious and seeking to expand their knowledge and skill sets. 

Focusing on continuous learning becomes essential as leaders have to ably scan the world around them for change and have the capacity to respond to it instantaneously. They need to capably connect the dots between people, ideas, and opportunities, especially when others see no connection. 

To become a connected leader, it is thus essential to draw on the ability to adjust our way of thinking, learning, doing, and being and remain on the path of continuous learning to achieve this. Leaders have to take on the responsibility to renew their mindsets and perspectives to secure the relevance of their organizations. 

Mastering the art of giving and receiving feedback

Connected leaders are open to feedback and have a growth mindset. They do not consider themselves to be perfect individuals who are above their teams but rather, consider themselves to be the facilitators of team success. For them, every hurdle or challenge is an opportunity for improvement. 

Research shows that those leaders who ranked in the top 10% in asking for feedback were on average at the 86th percentile in overall leadership effectiveness. 

The challenge with feedback is that it strikes almost at the tension of two core human needs. One, the need to learn and grow and second, the need to be accepted exactly as one is. 

Connected leaders can navigate this conundrum by leading by example. Seeking feedback from their teams and peers and developing the maturity and objectivity to evaluate feedback is one key trait of the connected leader. These leaders are anchored to their confidence but are not arrogant to believe that they are beyond feedback. 

These leaders receive feedback without needing to defend their actions. They make the person providing feedback feel heard and hence, valued and appreciated. They are also more focused on coaching their teams for success rather than remaining fixated on managing them. 

This approach creates a feedback-rich culture in the organization as the workforce appreciates leadership receptiveness to their thoughts and ideas. 

Build empathy 

Empathy is a crucial skill to becoming a successfully connected leader. Connection only happens when there is understanding without judgment or fear. In the absence of judgment, trust thrives, and people feel more confident to reveal their challenges and barriers to success. 

An empathetic leader has the emotional maturity to understand situations and what an individual could be through to offer the right support and help. They build the right connections by engaging with teams by showing genuine interest in their teams and their lives. Empathy is a learnable skill that builds trust and ensures that team members feel safe and cared for. This is especially essential for the hybrid workplace. 

Becoming more authentic in interactions, identifying individual biases, and developing a compassionate approach drive empathy. Connected leaders have to keep the channels of communication clear and open and are active listeners

Empathy helps leaders identify why people react and respond as they do and enables leaders to build connections and influence others through understanding. They are also able to connect with different types of people and adapt their style depending on who they are interacting with.

The role of organizations in developing connected leaders

Organizations have to help their leaders adopt and adapt to the new world of work and help them evolve into connected leaders. Since this demands a behavioral shift, organizations need data-backed insights into the actual skill needs of their leadership. Helping them cover this skill gap through contextual coaching programs becomes the essential next step. 

Coaching leaders to augment their leadership style and adopt connected leadership can deliver transformational organizational outcomes today. 

Since coaching is a non-judgmental and continuous process, it 

  • Allows leaders to be vulnerable and open and bring about behavioral change. 
  • Teaches them essential skills like active listening to help them read both verbal and non-verbal clues. 
  • Helps leaders identify the biases that impact their critical skill sets such as empathy. 
  • Develops higher levels of self-awareness and gives them the space to gather knowledge and know-how. 

Coaching also is a great tool to build connected leadership because it is more a process of discovery than direction. This helps the leaders identify the best solutions that work in their narrative and deliver impactful outcomes. 

Becoming a connected leader is a continuous journey. Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can help your organization uplevel leadership skills and lead your teams to success through connected leadership. 

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