In a world obsessed with achievement, it can seem counterintuitive to put connection first. In relation to business it is almost sacrilegious to think that there can be values such as connection over position, connection over production, connection over achievement, connection over ego. The reality is that more connection is needed, and the lack of it is significantly affecting the bottom line of businesses today.
“In the UK, the impact of loneliness and disconnection on employee wellbeing and the related reduction in productivity cost is estimated at £665m. The cost of staff turnover an estimated £1.62bn per year” (Breath)
This may seem like the nicest idea ever, but how could any business be successful? how would anything ever get done?
Well, it can, it has and it is succeeding. I have spent the last decade becoming the leader and woman that I am, navigating an achievement and production based industry and business with great success and accolade.
So why now do I champion connection over the very thing that has seen me succeed? A little over 4 years ago I hit a wall like a freight train without brakes and went down with stress. This was after a decade of seeing what I wanted to achieve, making a plan and solidly, doggedly and successfully hitting every goal on that plan and leading others in the same.
“Stigma around mental health struggles and burnout is costing the UK economy £1.4bn a year and around $190bn in the US” (Breath and Forbes)”
I started to look at what was missing from this decade, what was missing in my life, what was missing in mindset, what was missing in my leadership.
What I found was that achievement mindset works well for a period, fixed and focused. It is when it becomes a sustained behaviour at the expense of everything else, that it starts to create a culture of self and leadership that is extremely rigid, void of growth or learning and lacking any kind of creativity or dynamism.
The fear of not achieving starts to set in, along with fears of losing face and position. These fears unexpressed or shared, become rigid and fixed and begin to affect behavior. In order to succeed in the face of those fears you begin to exert superiority and manage teams through the fear you are feeling yourself. This rigidity has it be that the business is completely unavailable for any kind of disruption or change, this also goes for its people. You become focused on protecting position and retaining people’s perception of you regardless of the strain on personal, physical and mental health.
It sounds awful, it is believe me, And it is also rewarded, I had a lot of success. I led some amazing projects, with amazing teams of incredible people. We all learned alot from each other and people I have led have also gone on to be leaders themselves. This approach works in an environment where achievement and results are the priority even at the sacrifice of personal wellbeing.
What I am proposing is that there is an alternative. An emotionally intelligent one. A connected one.
Simply defined by Psychology today, Emotional Intelligence or EI refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.
The Journal of leadership and education org shares that: “EI is “the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence” (Bradberry, 2014)
So this is definitely more then just buzzwords and trend. One thing that I have observed is that it’s currently predominantly a cognitive exercise and learning as opposed to an actual experience in the workplace. And that’s where connection comes in.
A cultural perspective and practice of connection over achievement as a priority in the workplace offers a perspective shift. It is most certainly counterintuitive, and one we are ALL inherently gifted in, but not necessarily utilizing in the business world and our everyday work lives.
It is not to say that we ignore achievement, goals and results, but we that we look at all those things from a position of connection.
Connection enables dynamic flexibility, longevity, authenticity, trust, sustainability all of which create a climate for innovation, creation and success. I have seen my approaches to leadership shift, so that when I’m focused on connection first, my teams become brighter, their fear is less and so their brilliance and ideas have permission to come through.
And, here’s the thing that happens, my fears of not reaching or achieving or losing my position or reputation are also lessened. A bi-product of everyone’s fear being lessened, and their ideas and brilliance coming forth is that we actually achieve what we have set out to achieve but in a way where we are all connected through every step.
Achieving your goals and the results you deliver are important. In terms of your mental health and well-being, it’s also important how you do that. In connection, my clients are happier, my team is more invested and happier, Im happier and we are successful.