As Susanne Biro recently noted, the expectations of leaders have continually changed. In fact, she proposes that to be successful in today’s environments, a leader needs to be someone who “sparks in their team members/employees a desire to help.” That is, “What makes a person an effective leader is the ability to connect with others in a way that makes them want to help us.”

 What exactly is required to “make that connection?” First, it requires the leader to consider the following about the other person: Who are they? How do they like to work? What would they most appreciate (i.e., “what will make their day easier and/or better”)? Specifically, it becomes taking the time to try and understand the world of another person(s) and then operate more fully within it.

Sometimes, this means genuinely inquiring about another’s family, and other times, it means getting straight to business (so as not to waste time when you know someone dislikes social chit-chat). Specifically, leading today is never as simple as just “do this or don’t do that.”

Unfortunately, in today’s ever-changing and chaotic world, it is easy to become stretched beyond our limits by the demands of our work and, often, family. It can become easy to take out this stress on others. However, this only makes the situation worse. When we treat others poorly—a cold or sharp tone, an unnecessary cc to a colleague’s boss, or venting behind another’s back versus having a direct conversation—we hurt ourselves in a variety of ways. These behaviors often explain why a person is passed up for a promotion or why working with a colleague’s team member is always frustrating.

It is critical for leaders to understand that the ability to connect and create relationships is often more important than many other factors when doing business. Everyday “evidence” shows that people simply want to work with other people that they like. In fact, it is not uncommon for a “likable person” to be selected over another person who may actually possess more qualifications or a superior product.

We must ask ourselves, “Are we leaders simply because others report to us, or because we are responsible for an area of the business?” “Are we leaders because we have a future vision that no one else seems to be able to see just yet?” Or is the answer that we are only leaders when others are following? After all, how can we call ourselves leaders if, when we turn around, no one is following us or the initiatives we need them to support?

With this in mind, to be a successful leader, a person must be able to work extraordinarily well with and through others.  As our organizational landscapes continue to change, how we connect with others remains paramount. Every interaction we have either contributes to a relationship or it detracts from it. When what we do detracts, the result is more work for us and fewer supporters.

Oftentimes, that means taking the time to understand the world of another, allowing us to operate more fully within it.

Invest some time reflecting on your own leadership style. How willing are those with whom you work closely to advocate on your behalf? When you reach out, how many seem eager to assist? How many genuinely have your back? These are questions to consider as today’s direct reports can quickly become tomorrow’s boss or client.

Focusing on your ability to “connect” with others will often also improve your overall ability to “lead” others. Biro found that a person’s ability to connect and create relationships trumps many other factors when doing business. To be a most effective leader, continually look to improve your ability to connect with all of the people that you interact with.

For over 25 years, E.A.S.I.-Consult® has been helping companies identify – and develop – the most successful leaders for their organization.  As a leading company in researching and identifying key capabilities necessary for any situations – including unpredictable leadership challenges – we assist organizations reach their full potential.

About the Author

Joseph Gier, Ph.D. is Vice President – Consulting Services at E.A.S.I-Consult and is a licensed Psychologist. E.A.S.I-Consult works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized organizations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. Utilizing scientific approaches, E.A.S.I.-Consult provides superior results for a wide variety of businesses.  Our specialties include leadership and leadership potential assessment, online employment assessment, customized skills assessment, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. To learn more about E.A.S.I.-Consult, visit, email, or call 800.922.EASI.