I recently sat down with Dudu Hlatshwayo, CEO and founder of Change EQ Corporate Advisors in Johannesburg. I think you will find her answer to be thoughtful and full of insight, everyone reading this should take heed of this simple advice.

Interview Summary

JH: What is the number one leadership competency required in this fast-paced, unpredictable world we now find ourselves in? 

DH: Connection will be a critical competency in the new world. With the fourth industrial revolution upon us, the world is getting smaller and faster. With this dynamic, we need to understand that human connection will be more important than ever to lead effectively.

JH: By addressing the word connection (Latin for joining or binding together), it goes deep into the essence of servent leading. You should take time to not only “connect” with someone on a professional level, but dig deeper and find out who the person is. What are the struggles they face not only at work, but off the clock also? By holistically understanding your team, you can best find what motivates them, and even how you need to bring support when you otherwise would not. An example could be that you notice a teammate who has been underperforming and lacking energy. Do you know what is happening beyond the workday with this person? What if this person just had a newborn and was kept up at night because of the baby? It is simple things that affect all of us, so be careful not to judge if you are not connected. 

DH: Another characteristic critical to human connection is the ability to respond to situations. There is a real need for humans to be able to take in information and respond with the right amount of EQ and IQ along with your personal experiences brining to a conclusion that makes the best sense for a given situation. We will never have a world of robots as leaders because they would respond to whatever is programmed as the answer. The human and human connection in all environments will always be the key competence required for 21st-century leaders.

Key Leadership Takeaways:

  1. The leader’s ability to make a human connection is key. Take the time to understand that your coworkers are human. We are all affected by life’s circumstances. 
  2. You are not a robot! Think and act based on your education, training, and experiences as a human.

Leader Action Plan:

  1. Make it a point within the next month to find one new thing about your coworkers that you did not know.
  2. Work on a leadership style of communication that will always include bringing a human side to things. In a meeting, do not just talk tasks, but also ask your team how they are doing, beyond just the work environment. 

What are your thoughts on connectedness? Please post your comments below and let us begin building a tribe of people who have a passion for followership, mentorship, and leading!