How to Connect with Your Team as a Leader

Do you find it difficult to connect with your team as a leader? 

Employees can sense when there is a genuine disconnect when information is siloed or excessive. When information is conveyed in a detached, impersonal and unclear manner, they may feel frustrated. Plans could be derailed and crucial directions could be overlooked as a result.

An Economist Intelligence Unit study shows the ill effects of poor workplace communication:

  • Failure to complete projects — in 44% of the cases;
  • Low employee morale — in 31% of the cases;
  • Missed performance goals — in 25% of the cases;
  • Lost sales — in 18% of the cases.
Greg Wood

Greg Wood

“You can’t be a leader if you can’t influence people, and you can’t influence people if they won’t listen to what you’re saying,” says Connection Coach Greg Wood.

He recounts, “I was taught by my mentor, Dwayne Lafotant, a magician out of Pigeon Forge theatre, that you need to know exactly what you’re going to say, exactly what your face is going to look like, and exactly how you’re going to walk, to give that initial first impression. And if you’ve already got a bad impression, then you need to do your best to continue to try to win them back because you can win people over time.”

Wood has owned a professional land surveying business for years dealing with lawyers and developers. Aside from this, his being a magician, street busker, keynote speaker, and presenter also prepared him to be a reliable Connection Coach. With this wealth of experience connecting one-to-one and with groups, he shares his best practices for effective communication to win them every single time.

1. Leverage the first 15 seconds

First Impressions MatterAs a former street busker, Wood’s goal was to keep the passersby hooked on him. These people are going somewhere else, but his goal is to draw them in to watch him for 20-30 minutes and give him money in the end.

Similarly, in your stand-up meetings, team de-brief and safety meetings, creating a variety of delivery methods keeps attendees involved and engaged.

“If you watch television movies, you will note that the camera angle changes at least every 15 seconds so that maybe they move in, close up, out. Another piece of dialogue is spoken, changing something in your appearance or putting in interesting stuff every 15 seconds. Because the minute people get bored, they’re gone,” says Wood.

  2. Make eye contact.

“People see life in your eyes. That’s about the only place in your body where they can actually see life. So, as customers to businesses, we know right away when the service level that we’re getting is insincere. As a speaker, when you’re standing on stage, there are little white square dots in your eyes. That’s the light reflecting back. Even when you’re talking to 1,500 people, for some reason, that still comes across,” says Wood.

3. Use vocal sincerity.

Customers know right away when the service level that they’re getting is insincere. Part of it is the voice that you use. Lay aside any personal problems you may have when dealing with customers. Essentially, when your attitude is right, your tone of voice naturally comes out friendly, empathetic, positive and professional.

Check out my Interview with Greg Wood

 4. Be prepared

Preparing in advance on what you are to say and do and how you’re going to do it drives out the fear factor and builds your self-esteem.

Wood has two autistic grandsons, but despite their challenge in focusing, preparation on what they will say and behave when in front of people helped them a lot.

“I’m not saying you need to have the whole conversation memorized. If you’re trying to sell somebody a car, or a piece of land, or a widget, you don’t have to have it all because you need to delve into what it is they need. And how you can help them with their problems, and how you can solve their problems. But knowing how you’re going to start can make such a huge, huge difference,” explains Wood.

“It has nothing to do with authenticity. To call this act of preparing by memorizing your lines inauthentic would be a misnomer. As a service provider, you would never go up to a customer and go, “Oh, another whiny ass, cry baby I have to deal with today.” Because maybe that’s how you’re feeling that day. That would be authentic,” adds Wood.

“Even stage actors say the same lines every single show, and it still sounds like the very first time. It’s not impossible to do.”

5. Find common ground to establish a connection.

The most important rule of communication which can open doors to connection is having a common ground. Conversing on common ground or experience can allow trust and friendship to develop. Then, the subject can move on to more serious stuff where there is better understanding and trust. Similarly, it is good to find small things to build upon when negotiating.

6. Adopt a being-of-service mindset

Anyone can be of service to othersIt is important to try to listen, understand, and know your client’s needs and where they are coming from. By being curious, you can find solutions that satisfy their needs (and wants) and keep them coming back.

Connecting with your team as a leader can be challenging at the best of times, but it’s not impossible. To start making the connection you need to understand how people think and communicate differently at different points in time. This means understanding what they know so far about the problem or issue and where their head is currently, during this stage of communication. Leverage the above 6 strategies and adjust your communication style accordingly. You can be intentional in how you address that particular person/group. That intentionality will help them feel more connected to the information being conveyed, leading to better decisions, made faster because everyone feels invested in those decisions.

Chicago Bulls’ power forward Greg Smith got it right when he said, “Before you can ever inspire, motivate, or influence, you must connect first.”

About Greg Wood

Greg Wood is an award-winning magician, comedian, and speaker. He has performed his own brand on comedy and illusions across Canada and in ten countries on Five Continents. He is a three-time winner of Winnipeg’s “Best of Variety Act” and has twice won Manitoba’s close-up illusionist award.

He recently earned the Accredited Speaker designation – the prestigious designation recognizing excellence in professional-level public speaking skills and subject matter expertise awarded by Toastmasters International. He is the first in Manitoba to earn this designation and only the 11th in Canada. Only 87 have earned this award since its inception in 1981.

Greg is a contributing author to Keystones and Cornerstones: Solid Foundations for Success in Business and Life, which is available on Amazon.

Contact Greg at…

About Marc Haine

Marc Haine is a Service Expert and a Master of Experience. He is a sought-after speaker and trainer working with businesses that need to attract and engage their best customers. Driven by his passion for creating experiences that rock, Marc has worked with retail, casinos, hotels, associations and municipalities to help them design jaw-dropping experiences that get them noticed.
Marc knows what it takes for businesses to exceed experience expectations–The first step, each day, as you open your doors to the public, have you and your staff yell, “IT’S SHOWTIME!”
Marc is one of the world’s foremost authorities on customer journey experience touchpoints and is the author of LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION! Business Operational Excellence through the Lens of Live Theatre (Check out the new way of looking at your business HERE).
Marc is offering a free 30-minute brainstorming session with you and your team. Click Here to book a time that works for you on his online calendar.
Dare to be the exception™

Marc is a service expert and a master of experiences. He's also an author, speaker, facilitator and coach. He will help your teams ignite their passions, enable your leaders to recentre their focus, and drive continuous improvement through connected and engaged employees. This will allow you to realize your competitive advantage with a connected purpose and consistency of customer experience across your brand. He will dare your people to cultivate a generous attitude and lead with love and kindness first.

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