Never Eclipse Your Chance To Connect With Your Team
I had a most refreshing moment with a team of people a couple of weeks ago. We were discussing the upcoming solar eclipse, and John, (not actual name) immediately brightened and started sharing way more than I expected about the history of such eclipses. He even said he would be traveling to South Carolina to stand on the very spot where a famous (to him) astronomer stood during an eclipse in 1903. The rest of his team joked with him about his “nerdiness,” but you could tell they respected him for his interest even though they didn’t share his same level of enthusiasm.
While professional interests formally bring us together at work, it’s the freedom to share about our personal interests and passions that really connect us on a deeper level. Knowing that you won’t be laughed at or frowned upon for having an interest that’s different from everyone else encourages you to bring both your mind AND heart to work each day.
Your role as a leader is to foster that type of environment by setting the example as you work with each member of your team. How you ask? Here are some suggestions:
- Make a list of everyone on your team and the things they are passionate about. If you find yourself listing general things like “sports” or “family,” plan to listen better in future conversations to determine more specifically what ignites their passion about these things.
- Be more curious about the interests of the individuals on your team. If they mention something they enjoy doing and it’s unfamiliar to you, don’t ignore their comment. Ask questions to learn more about it.
- Reflect on any “outside of work” activities as a team. Do they reflect the interests of just one or two people? What activity can you come up with that would connect with some different members of your team? If you’re stumped for possibilities… ask THEM!
And while you're seeking to dig deeper about the interests of those on your team, make sure you're also willing to talk about what your own personal interests and passions. Give them a chance to see (and explore) what really makes you "shine."
For more related to this topic:
How To Improve Team Performance With An Anatomy Lesson
Strong Leaders Need To Be Level 3 Listeners