The virtuous circle of connection

Beverly Landais discusses the concept that there can be a virtuous circle of connection between people and an organisation, where peak performance can be reached and maintained for longer.

We all want to be noticed. People crave recognition and appreciation. In a world that is too busy, and cluttered with an assault of sensory experiences, the simple things count. A smile as someone passes you by in the street. A touch of kindness when someone retrieves a lost object. Small but significant shared moments that ground you in the here and now. That connect you.

Yet we are often stifled by the vicious circle of awkwardness. The moment passes because we feel embarrassed or too shy. Sometimes we struggle with self-image and worry about how we will come across. Too often this spoils the chance of making a new connection. We want to say and do the right thing to impress. Nobody wants to look foolish and sometimes we do nothing or, worst, make a smart comment at another’s expense.

How to break the vicious circle of awkwardness? Back to the simple things. What better than starting with an acknowledgement. At a personal level this can take the form of a pleasant greeting or just saying ‘thanks’ and remembering someone’s name. Eye contact and a smile is often all it takes. No words are necessary when the intention is authentic. Appreciation that is genuinely given will be welcomed. It is amazing to feel connected and share an experience of mutual discovery.

I think the key to connectivity at an organisational level is being utterly clear about the values by which the company wishes to be known. Just as vital is to communicate the associated behaviours that are expected of each and every person, regardless of role or seniority. To work this must be backed with authentic leadership and supported by a fair and transparent process of recognition and reward. None of this is easy to achieve. It requires effort with the courage to continually refine and establish true two-way communication. Most of all it needs to be brought to life with examples that help people to relate and understand how to contribute.

Such an approach can, over time, create the right conditions for open dialogue and constructive debate. This, in turn, encourages innovation precisely because it respects different views. It encourages adult-to-adult conversations which mean critical feedback can be delivered unsullied and yet with kindness.

This isn’t being ‘soft’. Point of fact it is integrity and ethics in action. In my experience, peak performance is reached and maintained far longer when there is a virtuous circle of connection between people and an organisation. Typical benefits that I have observed are improved teamwork, creative blame-free problem solving and exceptional client service. It just makes good business sense.

It is my belief that coaching as a management technique is a true enabler of this approach. I began with the notion that coaching has the potential to be a powerful tool to help achieve happiness and success in business and in life.

What I have discovered is that coaching can help free people from their worries by giving them the space they need to develop their ideas and think through options. I have observed that it requires unconditional attention on the part of the coach who, for a time, must become fully immersed in, and captivated by, an alternative view of the world.

People are quite simply better versions of themselves when they recognise that despite uncertainty and, even in in the midst of great change, they have options. Coaching helps people discover that they have, in fact, the will within to do something, anything, and this moves them forward. They begin to value themselves and somehow this radiates so that they become more valuable to others and this, in turn, allows them to grow.

Self-discipline to be present in the moment and trusting the process. Holding the space open for others and being an enabler of change, choice and action. Most of all, the belief in the potential that lies within all of us. These are the milestones that I have noted on the road to becoming a better coach. It seems to me that coaching is an amazing way of creating connections between people who are then able to explore new ideas and different opportunities. As I have developed my coaching skills, I have gained so much from the simple process of connection.

Try it for yourself: fully listen and become fascinated by the issues and interests of another. You are now on your way to creating a virtuous circle of connection in business and in life.

With thanks to Beverly Landais for this guest blog post, July 2015

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