Last week I was speaking at a womenâ€™s leadership conference and enjoyed the keynote speech by Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. In her talk she related the story of a woman whose boss would never give her his full attention. He would continually look at a screen, whether a cell phone or computer monitor, while attempting to carry on a conversation with her. The pain in her face was obvious as she exclaimed to Maggie,”Five minutes. That’s all I wantedâ€”five minutes.”
As leaders, many of us feel compelled to remain as connected as possible to the network in cyberspace so that we can maintain a pulse on our team, our projects, and requests from superiors. This compulsion may be due to a self-imposed drive or from pressure above.
Letâ€™s contrast this urge to stay connected with the network versus the need for a strong rapport with subordinates. Giving every team member your full attention is good leadership for many reasons.
First, it signals to the team member that you value them and what they have to say. It also shows respect, one of the most fundamental desires for us humans.
Secondly, good communication is one of the foundations of successful teams and organizations. Not surprisingly, Rensis Likert discovered in his research that communication was a key component of successful organizations. In the most effective organizations (System 4) the superior â€śKnows and understands problems of subordinates very wellâ€ť and the interaction is â€śExtensive, friendly interaction with high degree of confidence and trust.â€ť
While I rarely see this behavior, I hear of it quite a bit. Itâ€™s worthwhile to ask yourself if youâ€™re connecting with your team members and giving them your full attentionâ€”at least for five minutes.
- Building a strong rapport with your team members shows you value and respect them.
- Good communication is one of the foundations of successful teams and organizations.
Keywords: leadership, communication, distraction, rapport
- Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass & Stogdillâ€™s handbook of leadership (3rd ed.). New York: The Free Press.
- Hersey, P., Blanchard, K. H., & Johnson, D. E. (1993). Management of organizational behavior: Utilizing human resources (6th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
- Likert, R. (1967). The human organization: Its management and value. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Shapero, A. (2004). Managing creative professionals. In The Human Side of Managing Technological Innovation: A Collection of Readings (2nd ed., pp. 48-55). New York: Oxford University Press.