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The Human Connection: A Win/Win for You and Your Company

Mary Rosenbaum | April 26th, 2011

If you have ever led or been on a team or worked on a project with others then you know how it feels when a group of people work together successfully, mutually supporting each other so that the work gets done. The feeling you get in these situations is a sense of flow, knowing “someone has your back” and that you are all working toward a common goal.

In order for this to happen, there has to be a connection that links you with your co-workers or employees. It could be common values (family, honesty, integrity) or common interests and passions. It could be a shared view of the world. Whatever it is, the relationship between you is deeper and with it comes trust and a sense of reciprocal responsibility for one another.

I co-led a leadership branding workshop for senior professionals a few weeks ago and was asked a question by one of the participants. He asked, “Why is it so important for me to bring my personal life into the office? After all, I do a great job, I have moved up in my company, all without letting most people know what goes on with me outside the office.”

The reality is he did not have to bring his personal life, his passions, interests, or experiences into the office in order to be successful. As a senior member of a management team, bifurcating his life has not negatively affected his career path. Or has it? Has there been any give up by not being open about ALL of who he is? Would other opportunities have presented themselves had he shared his many interests, passions, and vision with others? Would he have benefited from greater collaboration or a more interesting workplace where he didn’t have to sensor himself and where others openly shared with him?

Of course, we’ll never know the answers to these questions. But what I have experienced is that when you bring ALL of who you are into your workplace it is as if you put sticky tape all over your body, inviting others to connect with you on any one of those areas, and inspiring them to do the same in return. And what you get out of it is an opportunity to build closer relationships with those you work with and for, and to make your day better, more interesting, more varied, and more fun.

As a leader is there value to having your team or group be more open about their passions and interests at work? In an article by Polly LaBarre for the Management Innovation eXchange, she interviewed Ivy Ross, a design executive who has worked with major brand companies like Calvin Klein, Swatch, Coach and Mattel.

Faced with consolidating and absorbing large numbers of design professionals onto her team, Ms. Ross wanted to have everyone connect and bond with one another as quickly as possible because she firmly believes that creativity and innovation begin with real connection. She held a meeting and had each person bring in their favorite object. A video was made as each person talked about that object, themselves, and what designing clothing meant to them. The videos were condensed and distributed, providing everyone with a Facebook alternative to getting to know their co-workers on a more personal and individual level. Close connections were made based on the information disclosed, the type of information that you might never learn about by working with someone or that might take years to uncover. This sharing created an environment of trust and cooperation resulting in productive and creative teamwork.

So being ALL you of who you are wherever you are is a win/win for you and your company. To summarize, the benefits of bringing the human side of you, your passions, interests, and vision of the world to work include:

  1. Showing others the many dimensions of who you are.
  2. Allowing others to connect with you on the many different points (sticky tape) you have exposed.
  3. Exemplifying trust and a willingness to open up to others by sharing.
  4. Creating deeper bonds and encouraging collaboration.
  5. Opening the door so others can share as well.
  6. Highlighting your core values, an important connection point on every level.

What makes relationships powerful is the human connection. Without it you end up with a work environment that resembles bleached out cotton – it may do the job it was designed for but can be colorless and lacking an interesting texture.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to gain greater clarity and more effectively communicate their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

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