Are You for Real?

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“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or a small act of caring; all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia

Don’t you just love that quote? The first words that come to mind when I read this are ‘authentic connection’. The first person who comes to mind when I read this is my mother. Her ability to connect with people, on a deep soul level, was exemplary. Despite her life-long disability struggles, she saw everything through rose-coloured glasses and influenced every person who met her with the surge of her human spirit.

How did she have so many friends when she rarely left her home? This unexplainable connection to me as a youth became more transparent with maturity. It isn’t about being a social butterfly. It’s about being attuned with those you do meet, making them feel comfortable, and showing your true self.

That’s what true leadership is about – not being afraid to show who you are and participate in acts of humanness.

Inspiration and leadership are inseparable.

There’s so much information at our fingertips guiding us with skills for effective leadership: focus on team development, communicate effectively, possess problem-solving skills, encourage strategic thinking, and give honest feedback… the list is endless. And next to these are leadership descriptors, such as influencer, coach, advisor, visionary and so on. None is more effective than total immersion into the heart of a human being.

What nourishes team development is heart-based leadership.

The best leaders are curious about their team and ask questions. They give authentic attention – the secret to performance.

When I think of my mother, her confined lifestyle, and the magic of her human connection that created meaningful and genuine relationships, I think of today’s work culture and how we connect with each other. Yes, we’ve created a faster easier way to communicate through our devices and social media but at what costs? We can see people hiding behind fabricated stories and pictures on social media and the attempts to measure their self-worth with an extended list of illusive friends. If we look deep enough, we can see this cry for authentic connection at work.

Leaders have a privileged opportunity to influence lives and, as noted in the quote, “the potential to turn a life around.”

Ask the simple question, “How are you? Really, how are you?” And listen, really listen, with authentic connection.