Curiosity and showing interest: How leaders can better connect with their team

True leaders don't just build results, they also build people and connections to boost confidence and satisfaction levels in their team members.   

“Being curious and interested in your people is critical to building strong connections. This is how you understand what motivates them,” leadership development and executive coaching expert Michelle Sales told MPA. “Part of this process includes being humble, and letting go of your own excessive ego, insecurities or concerns about status.”

Sales, also author of The Connection Deficit, added that to make people feel valued, leaders demonstrate compassion and empathy, and admits to not always having the answer by seeking other’s opinions.   

According to Sales, disconnected and disengaged team members don’t feel part of anything, have low commitment and usually just go to work to do the bare minimum and gather their pay. And when people lack emotional connection to their work, they take more sick days and performance and behavioural issues arise, with extreme cases leading to a deliberate intention to harm and disrupt the entire business. Sales finds it “astounding that most people would rather leave a job than discuss workplace issues”.  

Moving people from feeling disconnected to connected is the responsibility of the leader, Sales said. However, she admits, it’s not always an easy task as it requires focus, energy, emotional courage and real effort. She advises leaders to always be willing to listen to others, to learn and leverage the various talents and strengths of their team members, as well as not to depend too much on technology.

“Contrary to belief, technology does not solve the issue,” Sales said. “Yes, it helps having more online meetings or using collaboration tools, but the problem is human, and so is the solution.”

A study by analytics and advisory company Gallup showed that companies with engaged workforces have higher earnings per share and a faster recovery rate from the recession, according to Sales. 

“This data is not unusual,” she said. “Other research proves that the ability of a leader to understand people’s motivators and to create the right support to allow them to become the best version of themselves is what creates the greatest impact on profitability and productivity.”

“That’s a business no brainer!”