This one is for my introverted leaders. The key to professional success lies in your ability to open up and connect with other people. You may read this and think (like I used to) that your personal life and professional life are two separate things. They are up to a point. I would say that the similarity lies in your need for authentic connection in both spheres. Just as you rely on your loved ones to support you in your personal life, you have to reach out for support professionally. No one is able to navigate this road alone and you have to be willing to extend yourself to those you serve in order to maintain career stamina. If you are reading this and thinking (like I used to) but I am an introvert how do I get started? I am terrible at striking up conversations! I feel you! Here are my three steps to connecting with others professionally.
- Know yourself
- This is especially key for introverts like us. Often, we are so deep into our own heads that we have no idea of all that we bring to the table! You have to know who you are and why you are in the work in order to connect meaningfully with others. When you know your gifts and understand your why, you have opened the door to find others who feel the same way. Here is a podcast I LOVE if you need pointers in this area.
- Look for the good
- One of the things that helps to build connections is to tell others what they are doing well. Think about it. How often have you been told “thank you” for your workplace contributions? How often do you tell your co-workers (or students or those that work for you) thank you face to face? People appreciate being recognized and affirmed at work. Instead of viewing co-workers negatively or not at all, you can choose to see them as important parts of your work..and tell them so. Here is a TED TALK to help you get started
3. Show Up
- Show up means that you give extra effort to let your team know that you are there for them. This means that you show up to meetings that are optional and contribute meaningfully to the discussion. It means that you show up for co-workers when they invite you out even if you can only stay for a short time. It means that you show up and volunteer to help out when no one else wants to take on the task. Of the three, this is the most important step because you show up with humility. When you actually walk the talk people will believe you and you will find yourself building real connections in no time.
Remember, to lead is to constantly learn and while others may not tell you the truth, I always will. You cannot survive in this work alone. Reach to others and you may find yourself surprised by how many around you wanted to connect with you the whole time. -Dr. Kia