Three Ways to Being an Authentic Connected Leader

Connection is an everywhere word in our high-tech world. Even so, the connections I'm talking about are sorely missing. Fortunately, it is our natural state of being, and it is recoverable.

When I say connection, think of these three strands: connection to self, connection to others, and connection to the natural world. These three connections actually belong as part of one inseparable way of being. For the sake of a learning and a personal growth framework, it's helpful to artificially comb them apart and develop them. Words— which are for the mind — won't describe this sense of being. For now we can say happiness, clarity, flow, awareness, or purpose. One client I work with defines connection as having  deep clarity and insight.

1.Connection to self

Ask yourself: "Am I in balance. Am I well?"  Nobody but you can take care of exactly what you need. If you are not doing that job, there is a problem. Moving quickly in a tightly packed schedule is not efficient. One senior executive tells me, "If I don't give myself space for transitions and just rush from phone call to phone call to meeting, I'm not my best self. I'm not at the top of my game."  Reflection is a natural part of a connected person's learning and productivity cycles.  

Next time you finish up a meeting, intentionally get yourself into a quiet location.  Rest your mind. Breathe as if you have not had oxygen in you whole body lately.  Let the last experience settle and check in with one reflective question: “What is one thing I learned from that last experience?”  Then consider your next meeting and ask yourself: “What is my intention going into this?”  There is a mentoring routine I do with executives that builds mastery in this area, and the results are impressive in a short amount of time.

2.Connection to others

                         “Being an empathetic and ‘emotionally intelligent’ leader is synonymous with being connected.”

How do you expand your emotional capacity for increased understanding and effectiveness? Start with approaching others as people with a unique gift and purpose rather than seeing others as a cog in your master plan — or unconsciously treating them that way. Cog thinking, a kind of bullying, limits you to seeing others as a transaction, not a person. Important human attributes like empathy drop out of transactional relationships. 

Connected leadership begins with seeing another person as a human being and being curious about who they are and aware of what they might be going through.

What's the risk for you to stop and connect?

Begin your next hallway encounter at the office by just taking a breath, and then see how this person with you is doing in their body. How is the eye contact between you?  Check in verbally. "How are you doing?" or "How was your commute to work?" or maybe,  "How is your family? I heard your mother wasn't well. How is that going?" 

Being an empathetic and ‘emotionally intelligent’ leader is synonymous with being connected. This kind of interest makes a difference. Their eyes light up. Their facial expression changes. There is emotional wellness here. There is gratitude, and appreciation, and there is more openness for your communication to be received.

3.Connection to Nature

“Belonging to a place is an essential part of the human psyche; it’s not optional.
To be placeless in our psyche is to invite behavior that has no consequence."

It is vital to connect to your own nature and the natural world. I look forward to the day when people easily see the relevance of nature to the corporate world. Increasingly, people understand that they are healthier when they spend time by streams, amongst the trees, or listening to the birds. 

Take a look at the abundant research on health benefits of nature from the American Society of Landscape Architects. Literally seeing nature through a hospital window increases recovery time so much that hospitals are painting nature scenes on walls where they can’t have a window. Being connected to nature ongoingly helps prevent the visit.

Such experiences and understandings are an entry to nature connection, but there is much more. The natural world holds lessons for how fires burn or how birds never use more energy than they absolutely need to (anyone you know?).

And there is yet more. Being connected to nature is a resonant remembering of how we are designed to live. Belonging to a place is an essential part of the human psyche; it’s not optional. To be placeless in our psyche is to invite behavior that has no consequence. That’s not something I’m interested in passing on to my children.  

So you can see that connection to nature is interrelated with connection to self and others, but you can only discover it outdoors. Hm, why is that a challenge? A number of well established awareness exercises through nature connection mentoring can change what was once abstract scenery into a joyous place that feels like home. 

These exercises bring people back to a deeply felt sense of belonging and purpose. It is a transformational journey that gives clarity in how to take care of the planet, other people, and themselves.

I have a vision of a world where business is operating in complete alignment with the laws of nature; where water, air and soil improves as an outcome of connected company practices; where leaders are conscious of themselves, others and the future generations.  I am assembling a team of high functioning and influential leaders who share this vision and are hungry to go on a connected leader journey. I take responsibility for leading humanity's reconnection to our nature and for building the connected human society of tomorrow—the one I want to live in. 

 If you share that vision, contact me.

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