Many serving leaders would be well served by developing a message they can share with their markets. Many of my CEO clients become more visible in their key markets as their business grows and evolves. That’s by choice. I’ve worked with them to become connecting leaders.
It’s easy to see when Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Tripp Braden, Gary Vaynerchuk, or Richard Branson shows up on your timeline with startling regularity. Can smaller business and midmarket entrepreneurs build a better business by building a stronger community around their products and services? To build a more valuable business you must become a connecting leader.
Many founding entrepreneurs can help their business increase its value and revenue by understanding a few simple rules on building their leadership brand. Over the past several years, I’ve seen many startup and midmarket CEOs build bridges to their many stakeholders by becoming connecting leaders on many different formats and platforms.
When coaching serving leaders and entrepreneurs, I try to help them become more comfortable in sharing their personality in a public forum. To persuade people today you must be authentic or, as my mentor Roger Ailes would say, you are the message. They must become a connecting leader.
Here are several ways to increase your influence as a connecting leader. The further you rise in your career, the better you must be at influencing others. Early in your career you must be able to sell your products and services. Many executives become great salespeople. As your career and life continues to evolve, you must be able influence people about what you believe. You must become a connecting leader.
The first way to be a connecting leader is you must be authentic. It will do you little good to share something you really don’t believe. People today are much more sensitive to what people believe than what they say. Sadly, people are more cynical than in the past. Save yourself many headaches by saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
The second way to be a connecting leader is to shine the spotlight on other people. Connecting leaders understand the more they let others shine and share their perspectives, the more likely the people listening will be impacted by your message. In social media you can do this by simply sharing other people’s ideas more with your audience. My CEO clients get good at bringing the right people to their meetings then letting them talk. Do you?
Sharing others’ ideas is one way a leader can reach more people more effectively than possible in the past. The only place a single entrepreneur makes a huge difference in the world is in fiction. Every great successful entrepreneur today has a great team around them. They are very good at connecting with key members on their team. When you start out in your business it may be a virtual team but it can help you achieve the results you hope to achieve in way that will make you wonder why you haven’t done this in the past.
The third way to be a connecting leader is to get very good at asking questions when you don’t have all the answers. When connecting leaders ask questions they enroll other people in the mission, vision, and values. Millennials want to help you create something bigger than themselves. Connecting leaders empower and enroll people on their teams. Done correctly, your team will be made up of connecting leaders.
Many entrepreneurs are very, very controlling. Did I mention very? Add facilitation skills to a connecting leaders’ toolbox and watch how quickly they begin getting results. Learning how to facilitate discussions is a skill that not only serves you inside the organization but when you’re out in public setting as well. My connecting leader clients have become stars in their markets because they are able to lead and facilitate panel discussions on what was happening in their industries.
The fourth way to be connecting leader is to get comfortable in what you believe. Leaders who know what they believe don’t need to memorize their answers. All great leaders I know are good listeners because they don’t have to wonder what they think about things. They are good at listening and connecting to people where they are. Connecting leaders can listen to another’s opinion and not feel they need to kill the messenger. They are very good at creating win-win solutions with others.
The final way to be a connecting leader is to learn how to use humor to bring people together on a contentious topic. Using humor to make your points is still a highly effective way of being heard. Look at Jon Stewart. He has made a career out of using funny stories and anecdotes to share his political views. Even leaders that don’t agree with him go out of their way to let him interview them so they can appear more human.
Keep an eye out for future blogs where we share several ideas that we learned from Jon Stewart. Join us for our next blog on Tuesday. See you then.