Leadership lesson: How to make deep connections with your team?

The key to any relationship is a deep connection based on heartfelt respect and admiration. For a leader to succeed and lead a team or organisation a deep connection from the heart must be made and maintained.


To move people to action you must connect with the heart. Leaders who use logic and rational thinking only are missing the most critical element. You must combine these with heart to move people to action. This connection is very personal and must be felt.

Early in my academic career I made a serious mistake at an open day which caused confusion amongst the visitors. My communication was not clear, and visitors ended up in several different places rather than where the presentation was taking place. I felt embarrassed and vulnerable.

My Head of Department apologised to everyone in the audience and spoke.

“I am really sorry for the confusion. It was my fault and I take full responsibility.”

He took the heat away from me. Many leaders would say something similar but would be scathing in private. He didn’t say anything to me in private. I was acutely aware of my mistake and my sheepish body language must have conveyed my embarrassment.

By taking responsibility he won my heart and respect. I was determined to never to let him down again. I worked extra hours and weekends to ensure everything went smoothly from then on. I was totally committed and focused on making him look good. I did all the homework to ensure all tasks were completed on time and all events went smoothly.


What would have happened if he blamed me?

I would probably have resented it. I would not be as committed. I would never give extra time during weekends and evenings working to ensure success.

As a leader, you must touch the heart first and people will follow you wherever you want them to go. So, work on making deep human connections.

A deep connection builds loyalty and trust.

For me, that event was a defining moment in my working relationship with the Head of Department and Leader. When I left the department for a higher position, they needed to employ two people to do my role. Without a heartfelt connection nobody would be as committed as I was to the role. I had great loyalty and a tremendous work ethic.


So, how do you make deep connection?

Even when you are talking to thousands of people pretend you are talking to one person. This builds rapport and connection. The group is made up of individuals who have their own characteristics, interests, skills and goals. Hence, look at them as individuals. Talk to that one person.

Great communicators such as Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King or John F Kennedy connected deeply with people. If you were in the audience, you would feel that they are talking to you. They would connect instantly to your heart.

Focus on THEM and not YOU.

If you want to lead yourself then use your head and logic and if you want to lead others, then use your heart. Great leaders combine these elegantly. They appear to effortlessly connect with people. Lady Diana had that endearing quality to connect with the public as Princess of Wales. Even when she was no longer officially in the role she was still known as the People’s Princess.


How do you connect with people from the heart?

Many leaders think, I’m the leader and they are my followers. They then give instruction in this tone.

This creates a division between you as a leader and your team. It is not an effective way of communicating. You won’t get far as a leader with this approach.

A leader must be confident so that people have faith in you and your decisions. To do this you must know yourself. You must know your strengths and weakness.

You must be sincere, open and honest in your communications. These qualities build trust. The key to every relationship is trust. To gain trust it takes a long time. You can lose it with one sentence.

You must also take interest in people and know who they are, their names, interests and their strengths and weaknesses. People are your most valuable resources as a leader. You must use them effectively to achieve the vision and objectives of your organisation.

As leader you must be authentic. You must live your message. Your team will see right through you if you say one thing and do something else. You’ll lose your credibility.

Focus on the team and greater good of the organisation rather than on yourself. They must believe in you, your vision and leadership ability to take them on the journey. When they look at you, they must feel a sense of hope and belief that they can succeed if they take the journey with you.


Do you want to be great leader?

Try this exercise:

  • What are your main strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your people?
  • How can maximise strength and compensate for the weaknesses?
  • How can you build connection with everyone in your organisation?
  • How can you communicate most effectively so that you engage the heart first and then the mind?


If you want to take the first step and learn about leadership then sign up for our forthcoming leadership courses. Comin soon.


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Above Blog written by Professor Waqar Ahmed, University of Lincoln, UK

Posted by ypsociety