Friday, June 8, 2007

leadership, communiation, trust, rapport in a nutshell

being the ceo of a company where I need to inspire people to work basically for free until we are profitable, learning the art of leadership has been one of my main focuses.

As John C Maxwell states, whatever someone says, leadership is influence. nothing more. nothing less.

Everyone looks to the leader for leadership. Whether you are not a leader at all, or the leader of the country, you need to acknowledge that the hierchy is there. of course, at the top of the branch, you might find God, the president, or a personal mentor. but if you are somewhere in the middle, you can make the climb up. it'll just take a lot of work.

there are two types of leaders. Positional leaders, and true leaders. Positional leader can be best described as someone with the title of leader, but without the trust and rapport from the followers. Furthermore, the positional leaders stay as positional leaders because they do not spend the time or see value in establishing trust and rapport with the followers. A positional leader might not sound like a bad position to be in, but if you break it down, they are a big liability. Positional leaders rub people the wrong way. He asks for a hand without the trust of his followers, and it can create tension and generally rub people the wrong way in any situation whether in a business or even at a party.

Anyone remember Lumberg in the movie Office Space? I can't think of a better example of a positional leader. It is clear, he has no intention of building trust and rapport with his staff, and when he asks for people to come in on the weekend. It is difficult for him to ask so he starts off like "ummm....yeah...". He's not in the position to ask for any help, and his staff is obviously not interested. But because he is in the position, people will come in, but don't expect them to be movtivated. If they do any work at all, they are doing it out of obligation, and they will only do the work they feel obligated to do.

This is why ceo's and officers in companies are paid so well. They all generally hold some good leadership qualities which translates to a lot of influence. imagine if your boss, that you have respect for, have a lot of trust in, and you know that he is looking out for you, asked you to work over the weekend. Would you do it? Of course. You probably would feel touched that he came to you personally and asked for help. You are going to give it 100%.

Rapport building 101 - Connect with people.

-Before anything, people need to buy into you, before they buy into your vision. This is one part you cannot immediately establish without a reputation. To to able to immediately establish this, this is where the time and energy you invested in networking and establishing your reputation pays off. If you do not have that, you need to spend the time to get across that you are genuinely a good person, can be trusted, and practice what they preach.

-Find some common ground. Find something you both share, whether it be a hometown or interest. So that you have a common ground to understand eachother below the verbal communication level. And if you had to make a decision, he would trust you to make a decision in not only his behalf, but a decision that is the best decision for the whole group.

-Pay attention to their interests and passions. This is generally what people talk about naturally. When they mention something they are passionate about, take notice, and when the opportunity arises, let them know you've listened by an action. One of John Maxwell's laws of leadership states, you must first touch people's hearts before you ask for a hand.

With some practice, you can establish rapport, and gain trust upon the first meeting. But like anything, takes some practice to be able to do it well.

The fastest way to lose trust and rapport from your followers
You can pretty much throw away all the work you put in gaining people's trust and inflence in a heartbeat if you exhibit a slip in character by:
-not practicing what you preach.
-overlooking the decision that is best for the group for personal gains.

if you do that, you'll need to spend a lot more time to gain trust back. exponentially more than you spend establishing the relationship in the first place.

applying your influence doesn't always have to be about the big stuff. it fully applies in any situation with any group of people. whether you are hosting a party, or out at the movies with a big group of people, everyone wants to accomplish the same goal. without a leader, you'll have to reach a group consensus, which is no easy task. with a true leader, he will lead the group and be able to communicate (with the aided help he has from the trust he's gained with the group) that the next action he proposes is the best action for the entire group. either the group will feel like he just read their minds and that you are looking out of their interests, or if they think the decision is something they wouldn't have chosen personally, they'll trust in his judgement and follow you wholeheartedly.

in conclusion, whether you'll be leading a group or not, you should always establish communication, trust, and rapport with just about anyone. establish it as quick as possible. stronger the better. always work on improving your relationship with them. so that if the time arises when you need to ask anyone for a hand (this situation will always arise) you'll already be in the position to do so.

it is true that some people are born with the ability to lead, but leadership is a skill, and every aspect of leadership can be learned. you may be born with leadership skills, but the best leaders are the best leaders because they've made it a practice to keep improving their leadership abilities.

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