used with mobile nav - no delete
Emotional Connection and Leadership

Emotional Connection and Leadership

Everything in leadership involves developing strong and trusting relationships.

By Mary Verstraete

 Scott Edinger, founder of the Edinger Consulting Group in Tampa, Florida tells the story of when he first started working in the Coopers & Lybrand consulting firm. Scott was assigned to Chris Abramson, who had an enormous scale of responsibility. Yet whenever Chris talked with him, he gave him undivided attention: "He talked with me about my goals and my development opportunities. He shared stories about life (both his and mine) outside the office. Even in our short conversations, in which he frequently was directing me do do something, he injected some kind of personal remark or comment."

Scott goes on to say: "Leadership has everything to do with how you relate to others and the quality and texture of those relationships. The higher up you go in an organization, the less important your technical skills become and the more your interpersonal skills matter. Chris Abramson excelled in one of the most important—and most misunderstood—of leadership skills: making an emotional connection.

The ability to make an emotional connection is so often misunderstood because it’s not about being emotional or showing emotion. It’s about making a human connection—one person to another. Chris Abramson had the ability to connect on that level with me, with teams, with an entire office of over 600 associates—to show us how important we all were to him and that there was more to our relationship than just the job at hand."

Let's face it, emotion isn’t often a word you see in business books. Yet business illustrates it's importance. In Gallup's article, "Customer Satisfaction Doesn't Count," they declare that "If you don't make an emotional connection with customers, then satisfaction is worthless." Their research proved that customers don't buy strictly for rational reasons—much more important is engaging them on an emotional level. And, businesses that optimize this connection outperform competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth.

What happens in an organizations without emotional connection? Employees become disengaged from their jobs, their leaders, and the company they work for. They have no motivation to put forth more than the minimum amount of effort required of them and no motivation to stay when better opportunities come along. Today’s leaders need to work to ensure that emotional connection is there.

What is the bottom line of this blog?

  • Emotional connection builds involvement and engagement
  • Emotional connection can determine the strength of a relationship
  • Emotional connection drives loyalty and advocacy
  • Emotional connection is an experience

This reminds me of the familiar quote by Maya Angelou, American autobiographer and poet:

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

People will leave a conversation experiencing

an emotional connection with you or a disconnection with you.

Let's look at three intentional actions to help forge the kind of connection Scott experienced:

  1.  Put people first. This sounds simple, but unless we are intentional in making people most important, ringing phones, emails by the dozens, and tasks staring at us, will be what wins our attention. When you unfailingly engage with people, you can expect engagement and loyalty.
  2. Develop your ability to engage with others. As a leader, develop the ability to reach out to others and engage them in conversation. Leaders, by definition, do their work through other people, and yet how easy it is to lose sight of that and to focus on the amount of work—the tasks, the output, the jobs to be completed. The irony is, the more you focus on the quality of your connections, the greater your quantity of output is likely to be.
  3. Listen. Really listen. Listening helps people feel important in every interaction, whether it's a phone call, face-to-face, email or chat. Regularly listen and respond to the people around you. Take the time to understand their concerns and needs.

Connecting is a learned skill. I believe coaching skills are one of the most effective means for leaders to learn how to genuinely and authentically connect with those they lead.

If you've never had coach training, I encourage you do so, and if you've had coach training, continue mastering your coaching skills.

What About Coaching Competence? Part 1

What About Coaching Competence? Part 1

By Mary Verstraete

In talking with coaches, a common goal is to be highly competent and masterful in the profession. Certainly every client deserves a masterful coach, but have you ever wondered how coaching competence is actually defined?


  • Competence is a scale of growth. The scale begins with a foundational level of competence that is the basis for continual learning and development. I remember when I finished forty hours of coach training, way back in 2004. I presumed that was all I needed and didn't realize the course was meant to be the beginning of my competence. In my journey of completing my first 126 hours of coach training, I realized what I didn't know! From that point, I knew there could always be a consistent polishing of my skills. When I asked Patrick Williams, author of Becoming a Professional Life Coach, what makes a masterful coach, his response was, "Mastery is a journey and not not destination."

On the logistic side of competence, basic skills begin with three investments:

1.  A reputable coach training program that teaches coaching skills

Competence doesn't develop without training from experienced coaches. The importance of this was brought to light in the recent ICF announcement:

The following changes will go into effect on July 31, 2018, at 12 Noon (New York):

  • Coaches applying for their initial credential (Associate Certified Coach or Professional Certified Coach credential) via the Portfolio path will be required to demonstrate that they completed a comprehensive training program that includes the ICF definition of coaching, Code of Ethics and Core Competencies, and is organized in a scope and sequence that encourages the growth of the coach. 
  • This means that coaches will no longer be able to submit a random compilation of non-approved training hours and/or Continuing Coach Education units in fulfillment of their initial training requirements.
  • Reputable programs require learning new skill and completely high-quality coaching and not falling into being the expert and engaged in advising and counseling. Coaching are to be experts in the coaching process.

2.  Being coached
To understand how to coach and understand the role of the client, the coach must be a client. ICF recommends that a new coach invest in a coach for 6 to 12 months! Why? This allows the new coach to experience how the coaching relationship unfolds from the client's perspective and to learn coaching skills from an experienced and competent coach.

3. Practice
Coaching cannot be learned by just reading a book. Coach is interactive and occurs between a coach and client. Without spending time in practice actually coaching–the coach will still be a beginner at the end of the program. The only way to learn how to apply coaching skills is to practice.

The initial check list for coaches to build competency:

  • Training from a reputable training program
  • Experiencing coaching as a client
  • Coaching skills practice

In Part 2, we will take a closer look at competence through the lens of coaching ethics.

 I couldn't be happier with the training. As a professional coach, I’m now involved in living my vision of being an agent for positive change in people's lives.

Alan Smith
CBMC Northland Area Associate Director