The importance of establishing a stronger bond with your team

Creative team enjoying communication in modern office, discussing ideas for startup, empty space, International Youth Day

“Why do I need to bond with my team? They are not my friends; they are only colleagues. I’m not likely to go out for a beer with them or take them to see my mother. Surely, I’m the boss, they get well paid, there’s a job to do. Why can’t they just get on with it. Work is work and home is home – don’t mix them up. Anyway, I haven’t got time for all this bonding and hugging stuff, I’m super busy”!

So how is that team going to feel? What might be going through their heads?

“I spend so much time at work but feel I don’t know anybody”

“My boss doesn’t understand me; I don’t like to work that way”

“I turn up, get stuff done and go home again, but it’s not particularly satisfying”

“The boss is boring and not very inspiring. I just don’t understand where the boss is coming from”

“Why should I work so hard for someone who does not care”?

I believe there are 3 fundamentals that all leaders need to understand:

  1. There is only one of each of us – not a work Manley and a play Manley – just the one Manley.
  2. We are all motivated differently, but there are common themes.
  3. Commitment or compliance – is up to you.

As a leader we need to realise that though we might behave differently when at work and when outside of work, we are not a different person. We are still driven by the same motivations and emotions, our nature and nurture is the same. There is only one you and one me. To live otherwise is to live a lie. We need to recognise this within everyone.

What does this mean? It means that though we can separate the actions between work and play, we cannot separate the human. If, at an emotional and motivational level, the environments and culture of work are so fundamentally different from the one we naturally chose our outside-work one, then we will be conflicted with the work environment and so be compliant to its demands.

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So let’s look at the deep human motivation within all of us. At a core level we are all trying to add value and be valued; to connect, to grow and to create. This will mean different things to different people of course, but it is a fundamental within us all. The common themes on motivational needs are expressed brilliantly through David McLelland’s 3-Needs Theory where he explains we have a balance of needs between achievement, affiliation and influence; getting stuff done, being part of a team, and growing or helping others grow. This balance is within us all.

The final leadership understanding has to be to that of the impact of compliance or commitment from our people and teams.

If I don’t care, don’t connect and don’t motivate, then the chances are my team will be complaint to my wishes. Think what that would mean for you if you were part of my team? How do you feel when you are not really engaged or you don’t care?

Frustrated? Annoyed? Bored? There’s that gnawing sense of dissatisfaction deep within your stomach. And how good will your work be? How much extra effort and innovation would you bring to the task? This is what it’s like to be compliant!

Now, how about I turn that around and make a big effort to bond and relate, to better understand your needs and motivations, to respond to your emotions and your inputs. How about I listen to you and spend time to get to know you so that I can then alter my leadership or communication style to fit your needs? How do you feel now?

Happy? Excited? Motivated? Bring it on? Extra effort? – “Why of course”! Innovation? – “I have some excellent ideas”!

This is the power of commitment. With commitment comes engagement, collaboration, ownership, innovation, resilience, happiness, well-being and performance.

So, why is it important to establish a stronger bond with your team? Because, as a leader, you want the commitment of all your people, and as a compassionate leader, that’s exactly what you get.

Make that connection and enjoy the journey.

About the author

Manley Hopkinson is the founder of renowned leadership consultancy The Compassionate Leadership Academy, author of Compassionate Leadership (Hachette, £12.99) and a sought-after keynote speaker.

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