The Leaders’ Secret To Connection

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around – Leo Buscaglia

In his book, No Limits, leadership expert John Maxwell recounts his reaction to the above quote by Leo Buscaglia. Maxwell reflected on those words after speaking to a large audience. He said, “As I spoke that day, I had invited people to come to me in my world, I realized that instead, I needed to go to them and put myself in their world.”

Without a connection to your people, it will be hard to lead your people. And herein lies the secret sauce for leaders today – stop expecting the people you lead (or desire to lead) to step into your world.

There are not many more important things that you can do as a leader than connect with your people. Without a connection to your people, it will be hard to lead your people. And herein lies the secret sauce for leaders today – stop expecting the people you lead (or desire to lead) to step into your world. You must step into theirs. One would think that this is would be a given that most leaders understand. But is it? This train of thought by Maxwell highlights a significant leadership blindspot that must be owned – we think it’s about us, but it’s not. The impact that you make as a leader shifts in your favor the day you realize this truth and begin to act like it.

When you step out of your own orbit as a leader and put yourself in the world of those you lead great things begin to happen. With this fresh perspective, you just might learn a few things. Here’s a sampling.

In their world, you learn their hopes and dreams

You might accidentally learn the hopes of your people when they are in your world, but you learn it intentionally when you step into theirs. To remove yourself from your people is to deny yourself from knowing what inspires them the most.

When you know what fuels the hopes and dreams of your people you will begin to see your leadership more as a sacred trust.

The people you lead have placed a degree of trust in you so you need to treat it with its due respect.

In their world, you learn their ‘why’

When you step into the world of your people you will not only learn about their hopes and dreams, but you will learn the most important things. That you already know their skill sets and areas of expertise is a given – but now you get to know them for who they are, not just what they do. Now you can be in a place to learn their ‘why’ and you can be a leader in their life that adds value with purpose. When you step into their world you get everything that comes with it. Knowing their ‘why’ gives you the knowledge you need to step up and be the best leader possible.

In their world, you can learn more about yours

Maxwell’s transparency about the Buscaglia quote was a dose of refreshing transparency and a lesson for all of us. He felt good about himself after his successful presentation only to realize that he had only been thinking about himself.

As leaders, it’s easy to get caught up in our own orbit and think it’s only about us – our wants, our needs, our ideas, our opinions, and last but not least – having things done our way. But it’s not. What we learn here goes to the heart of good leadership. When we lead with a heart of kindness, learn how to smile, give a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, an act of caring – these are things that will set you apart as a leader. And when you do these things, your people will be much more receptive to your leadership.

It’s time to realize that to be effective as a leader you must step into the world of the people you lead.


Doug Dickerson
Doug Dickerson
DOUG has been speaking to audiences in the U.S. and overseas for more than 30 years. Doug knows how to spin a story, make you laugh, and how to challenge your traditional ways of thinking about leadership. Most of all, Doug is committed to helping you grow as a leader. Doug is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and studied Clinical Pastoral Education at Palmetto Baptist Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. While his leadership expertise has its roots in ministry and teaching. His background also includes public relations and business. Doug understands the necessity of leadership development and why creating a leadership culture in your organization is critical to your success. He is the author of four leadership books including: Leaders Without Borders, 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders, Great Leaders Wanted, It Only Takes a Minute: Daily Inspiration for Leaders on the Move, and Leadership by the Numbers. As a speaker, Doug delivers practical and applicable leadership insights with a dose of humor and authenticity that endears him to a wide range of audiences. Doug is a John Maxwell Team member.

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