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Making Emotional Connections in a Virtual World
Inspiring leaders build authentic emotional connections. It is the most powerful skill when it comes to inspiring and motivating others. The higher up you go in an organization, the more important those connections become.
Years ago, I wrote an article for HBR called Three Ways Leaders Make Emotional Connections. This isn’t about oversharing or big displays of emotion. Rather, it’s about how we connect as people – not task focused robots. While the underlying approaches for creating emotional connections still stand, our world has changed. We have shifted from predominantly in-person office settings to a more virtual or hybrid environment. This shift requires greater intentionality around how we foster our professional relationships.
Consider these three ways to make emotional connections in our virtual world.
  1. Give people your undivided attention. Without as many in-person opportunities, you might find that you are no longer having one-on-one conversations with your team. Take the time outside of group meetings to speak to people individually, making sure to give them your focused time and energy.
  2. Be aware that emotions are contagious. Leaders have a strong emotional wake. Regardless of what the emotion is, your attitude has a ripple effect throughout the organization. Even online, people rely on your facial expressions and tone to understand where you are coming from. When you are energized and excited, show that excitement during meetings. When you are stressed or angry, be mindful of your impact on others, and take a break from video when necessary.
  3. Develop your sense of extraversion. You may feel like your life is a constant stream of video calls, but don’t let Zoom fatigue stop you from reaching out to people in your network outside of your team. If you are trying to be a more inspiring leader, it’s critical.
Don’t underestimate the power of the emotional connection. Being attentive to this will help you lead a more connected team and create greater trust and enhanced performance.
Effective Decision Making Includes Communication
What’s the most common mistake leaders make when communicating decisions? Not doing it. As the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw famously said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
One common reason for this is a concern for how people will react. To avoid that potential discomfort, I’ve seen leaders simply avoid communicating decisions. That leaves people in the dark or they find out in unintentional (and sometimes unproductive) ways.
As a leader, you can’t fear the possible consequences of being truthful. Sure, sometimes confidentiality comes into play. But there’s often a way to let your team know what may be in store without sharing beyond what’s appropriate. For example, your business may field inquiries each year from prospective acquirers. There is no need to disclose the full details of each offer as they arrive, but you could share that you routinely receive offers and at some point, acquisition may become a reality. This appropriate disclosure can help prime your team for what may come and save them from feelings of complete shock in the future.
When it does come time to share a decision, be thoughtful about how it is communicated. Include the what and the why of the decision. This will give people the framework needed to put the decision in context. Give them an idea of what to expect going forward and provide them some guidance in how it may impact their role.
Current Read
Here we go with the whole Daylight Savings thing again. As Discover magazine points out, it’s a ritual despised by many of us. We all have our reasons, and despite appreciating some of what’s associated (like the change of seasons) I’d skip the time change if given the choice. What surprised me in reading this article was the impact it has on animals – particularly those that intersect with human activity patterns.
How do you feel about Daylight Savings?
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Edinger Consulting