Many Ways to Connect

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This last week I was in Boston for several meetings and to teach a seminar for the Institute for Management Studies (IMS).  I always teach that there are hundreds of ways to connect with others and the challenge facing leaders is to get to know the people they lead and identify ways to connect with them given who they are and the context of their work together.

Following are a few of the ways I learned that people and organizations are connecting.

  • At Bose Corporation, new employees learn “The Essence and Values of Bose,” including that “we treat others with respect.”  At Bose, these words are more than window dressing.  All new employees take a course on respect that help them bring this value to life in Bose culture.
  • At Amica Insurance, serving customers is an all-consuming passion.  Amica is a perennial winner of customer service awards.  Inside the company, when an employee is identified as having served a customer well, his or her team is recognized too.  This motivates the team to support one another’s efforts to serve customers.
  • Elizabeth Dole, when she was president of the Red Cross, took the time to learn something significant about each person she would meet so that she could affirm each individual a personal way.  In subsequent meetings, Ms. Dole was very good at remembering and mentioned the significant fact when she saw the individual.
  • David Gill, a professor at Gordon Conwell College, told me that we connect with the Divine when we “help people fulfill their dreams or overcome their nightmares.”  (We also connect with others when our organization’s mission accomplishes these ends.)

The importance of creating Connection Culture also came to my attention this week as I was doing research on Alan Mulally, Ford’s CEO.  Ford just announced its third full year of profit.  Frances Hesselbien, a friend and leader whom I much admire, has praised Mulally so I decided it’s about time that I take a closer look at his leadership of Ford.  In this splendid interview he did with The New York Times, Mulally recounts how he learned the importance of giving people autonomy, being inclusive, keeping people in the loop and connecting them to their organization’s “Inspiring Identity.”

In the coming weeks I’ll be speaking and teaching in Houston, Amsterdam, Brussels, London and Edinburgh.  As I travel, I’ll post new things I learn about connection.

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