Scott Edinger, founder of Edinger Consulting Group, said this about emotional connections:
The ability to make an emotional connection is so often misunderstood because it’s not about being emotional or showing emotion. It’s about making a human connection – one person to another.
We tend to think of emotional connections purely in the sense of familial or romantic relationships. But it’s important for a leader, in any setting, to be able to connect on a real, emotional level with those around them. For some people, connections come naturally; it’s at the core of who they are. But don’t fret if that doesn’t sound like you or your style. Like most of the traits we discuss, it can be learned.
Connecting with people is the very essence of effective leadership. It won’t be memos or emails that you send, or texts and phone calls about important projects. It’s the way you interact with people on a personal level that remains far after any of the ephemeral communications fade away.
Maya Angelou put it well: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
That’s every bit as true in the business world as it is in the political realm. Save for a few famous ones that stand the test of time, a speech given by a politician will be forgotten soon after it’s delivered. But the emotional connection conveyed – that endures.
The same is true in your own leadership role, no matter the level. Your team members won’t remember much of what you said in yesterday’s meeting, but you can be certain they’ll remember how you said it. If you establish yourself as trustworthy, and really get to know those around you, it’s going to make a huge difference in the way your operation runs.
This connection isn’t just important in terms of how you interact with people within your business or organization. Gallup conducted research to determine how consumers engage with businesses based on their emotional connection. The data is unsurprising: Those who were both extremely satisfied and emotionally connected to their grocery store were far likelier to spend more and spend often at the establishment. It isn’t enough to give people a satisfactory experience; they also need to feel a connection.
This is particularly true today, in a world consumed by electronics, social media and technology in general. These tools make getting your message to people far easier, but they also eliminate a level of human, emotional connection. With automation and artificial intelligence being introduced into new sectors, it’s important to focus on maintaining that emotional connection with those around you.
Edinger cites the importance of emotional connections as you climb the ranks of your business or organization:
Leadership has everything to do with how you relate to others and the quality and texture of those relationships. The higher up you go in an organization, the less important your technical skills become and the more your interpersonal skills matter.
It’s important for everyone, no matter how new or inexperienced, to feel a connection in the workplace. When you move into a management position, your role shifts. You must learn how to deal with people in their context, and an emotional connection with them makes that possible.
One study found that nearly 90 percent of organizations claim that engagement is a top priority, yet only 15 percent of employees say they actually feel engaged. This must mean that people claim to support emotional connections but fail to put that into practice. Redouble your efforts, and you’ll see your workplace succeed.