When someone new steps up into a leadership position, the people have hope. They will listen, believe and follow, but this honeymoon does not last long. Here’s how it works: the first six months, communication overrides credibility; the next six months, credibility overrides communication. Credibility is currency for leaders and communicators. With it they are solvent, without it they are bankrupt. Think of elected officials and you might see this in action.
The Truth Test: Steven Covey said, “Trust earns confidence” because trust erases worry and frees you to get on with other matters. Low trust allows for others to have hidden agendas. Lack of trust inhibits innovation and collaboration. Lack of trust will disconnect you form others quickly.
You Are Your Message: Eventually who you are will shine through. You must become the kind of person you seek to connect with.
Connecting with yourself: If we are uncomfortable with who we are, others will not be comfortable with us. If we don’t know our own strengths and weaknesses, attempts to connect with others will misfire. A spiritual gift inventory is a great tool to know yourself.
Self-talk is a powerful influencer of what we believe about our selves. If we are critical and negative in our self-talk, we cannot be confident with ourselves or with others.
Right your wrongs: How do you maintain credibility when you make a mistake? It depends on how you handle mistakes. Failure to admit mistakes causes the message to be questioned which causes the integrity of the leader to be questioned.
- Acknowledge: You own people an explanation when you make a mistake
- Apologize: It may be a painful moment but it is the right thing to do. Apologize as wide as the infraction. Get the incident behind you.
- Amends: Make it up to the people you have wronged.
Be accountable: Deliver on your promises. When you make a commitment, you create hope. When you keep a commitment, you create trust. We often need accountability in the areas of our weaknesses.
Lead the way you live: You cannot speak about that which you do not know. You cannot share that which you do not feel. You cannot translate that which you do not have and you cannot give that which you do not possess. Where some see a message as a lesson to be given, connector see the message of a life to be lived. For connectors, the message is an extension of who they are. You have to be what you strive others to be.
Tell the truth: Edward R Murrow once said, “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must tell the truth.” Credibility is not perfect but a willingness to admit to imperfection.
Be vulnerable: We often think that the teacher is to have all the answers; and we want to believe that and not appear weak. We all know that perfection is a mask, and we don’t trust people hiding behind these masks. They are not being honest with us and therefore are not connecting. Do we really think that people don’t already know our weaknesses? They do, and by admitting them you are letting others know they you know your weaknesses. We only win when we take chances; the hardest risk is being honest with ourselves.
Follow the Golden Rule: Maxwell writes that some organizations are like a tree full of monkeys. If you’re on the top looking down, all you see is smiling face looking up at you. If you’re on the bottom, the view is not so pretty. People can learn a lot by observing what leaders do with their power; when they interact with others who don’t have power, position or strength. The Golden Rule challenges us to treat others as we would want to be treated.
Deliver results: Peter Drucker once wrote, “Communication always makes demands. It always demands that the recipient become somebody, do something, believe something, it always appeals to motivation.” Connectors encourage others to deliver results. To expect results from others, we must deliver results ourselves. This may be the consultant syndrome. Some have never really accomplished in what they profess to be an expert. They sell a promise without a track record.
Connecting Practice: Connectors live what they commutate.
Key Concept: The only way to keep connecting with people is to live what you communicate.
- Does you character emphasize that you have to teach, or does it undermine it?
- Do you follow through on your commitments?
- Where to you need to improve?
- Are you doing what you ask your students to do?
- Does your track record support your teaching?
- Can your students depend on you to follow through on your promises?