One of the most difficult things about being a leader is knowing how to connect with different people. Leading someone who is like you or thinks the way you think is much easier than leading someone who has radically different views from you.
Leaders must be able to connect with everyone on their team, especially those who disagree with them. As the saying goes, a team is only as strong as its weakest link, and it is a leader’s responsibility to make sure there is no weak link.
It is a leader’s responsibility to make sure there is no weak link
In order to connect and lead diverse groups of people, a leader must have a wide array of social skills. A variety of social skills allows a manager to determine what will be the most productive way to try to connect with someone. For instance, how a manager communicates with a 20 year-old new hire will most likely be very different to how he connects with a 30 year company veteran.
Because there are so many different people and situations a leader will have to navigate, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out all the answers on your own.
Here are some social tips that can help you connect with all the different types of people and situations you may encounter:
The biggest mistake anyone can make when it comes to social skills is to think that social skills only include what they say. This can be a disastrous misconception. “Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves,” said Dale Carnegie, the author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Listening to others is absolutely crucial because it will allow you to know what they care about. If you take an interest in what other people say and talk about, it will make your conversations much more productive. Plus, if you listen to them, they are much more likely to listen to you.
#2 Show respect for everyone
Whether it’s the 30 year veteran or the new kid who has only been there a few days, you must treat everyone with respect. As a leader, people will only connect with you if they respect you. The best way to earn respect is to give it, and this is crucial for communication. Respect is the foundation of any relationship, and is the ultimate social skill. If people respect you, they will trust you, be honest with you and work hard for you.
#3 Make a good first impression
Making a good first impression has always been important, but it is even more so now than ever. In today’s digital world, you may only meet someone you are working with once, and that one meeting may be the only chance you have to make an impression before you only ever communicate by email. So when you meet someone, give them your undivided attention and your respect, because it may be the only chance you have.
#4 Encourage a social environment
When the culture is one of openness and discussion, people will be much more inclined to be social. One of the advantages of an open and friendly environment is that it naturally fosters connections. Such environments will create relationships between people, and the interconnection of those relationships helps to form a strong, complete team. After all, building bridges will be much more conducive to a team than building walls.
#5 Be prepared
Whether you are meeting an employee for the first time, pitching a potential client or meditating a dispute between two employees, make sure you are prepared. If you are not prepared to meet someone, and if you have not done your homework to know what you are meeting about, you are going to bring little value to the meeting. Furthermore, showing up unprepared will make it seem like you do not value other people’s time and they will respect you less.
#6 Enthusiasm and Positive Thinking
Negative conversations and environments lead to negative thinking, and negative thoughts lead to self-doubt. Turning negative thoughts or actions into positive ones is a great way to build relationships and increase employee engagement. If people know they can come to you when things are tough, it shows trust, and being able to find the best in situations and see the best in others is a great way to build trust and connections with your team.
No matter the situation or the person, always remember to listen and be respectful, prepared and positive
Social skills are essential to effective communication, and no leader can be efficient and effective if they cannot communicate well with those who they lead. These are just a few of the many tips and strategies you can use to engage with people. You might also consider adjusting your Management Styles.
Celia is an expert contributor part of Dale Carnegie Training, a company founded on the principles of the famous speaker and author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Today, the company offers leadership training to help businesses and individuals achieve their goals.