In the last decade, I’ve observed all kinds of different boards. From public to private, big to small, I see the same pattern of interaction over and over again. I can see when a board is struggling and when it’s operating smoothly. The main difference between the two is emotional connection. Board members who are emotionally connected have a strong positive affect on the rest of their board. They get better results and inspire greatness in others.
So let’s talk about what you should not do on a regular basis:
- Don’t Shut Other Directors Out. Emotionally connected board directors don’t shut down and they don’t stop engaging. They avoid saying things like, “I don’t want to discuss it.” Instead, they slow down the conversation by saying, “I am not able to focus on this right now, can we continue this tomorrow?”
- Don’t Lose Control. They learned how to tune into their emotions so that they do not feel overwhelmed by them. They have learned how to articulate their emotional experience and know what they need to regain their balance. They don’t say, “You don’t know what you are talking about.” Instead, they say, “This approach really worries me. Let’s have a conversation about it so that everyone can express their view about this topic.” By addressing the feelings of discomfort early, you can prevent a disconnection and loss of trust.
- Don’t Shy Away From Conflicts. Emotionally connected board directors do not shy away from conflicts as they have a keen understating of how to make opposing directors feel understood and part of the solution. Making your relationships stronger, you will become more comfortable with conflicts and increase the safety for people to share their differences in opinions, exploring new ideas and diverse viewpoints.
- Don’t Give Up On Relationships. It is easy to give up on a relationship when you feel hurt. However, recognizing that when individuals have difficulties in expressing their emotions it is not because they do not want the relationship, but they do not have the right tools provides you a way to empathize with their struggle and create a safe environment for them to re-engage and feel supported.
- Don’t Hide Their Vulnerabilities. Recognizing when you feel hurt and being able to articulate it in a coherent, non-judgmental way takes strength, courage, and lots of practice. The risk of sharing and being vulnerable, with being open and honest often pulls people closer and inspires others to follow suit.
- Don’t Fear of Trying New Styles. Focusing on being an emotionally connected leader in your interactions may be viewed as unconventional and daring. We are bonding human beings. When you improve your skills in emotional connection, you can help others to use the language of emotions, so that they can be more effective in sharing their concerns and worries.
- Don’t Hold On To Resentments. Feeling disconnected is draining and exhausting. Burdening ourselves with resentments leaves us isolated and alone. It leaves us stuck in a terrible negative cycle of despair and failure. When we are take steps to recognize and accept the fact that we need each other to repair our disconnect, we start to recognize how important we are to each other, and how important our emotional connection is to our well-being.
- Don’t Fear of Making Mistakes. We all make mistakes and have fear of making one when our relationships are not secure. It is much easier to minimize mistakes when we support of each other and feel safe in sharing our mistakes. Once we can create an environment when people share their mistake easily, we have overcome the fear of the disconnection and our relationships becomes stronger.
- Don’t Lose Your Excitement. Get excited for others’ successes. When you are emotionally secure in y our relationships it is easy to give compliments and recognize others for their achievements. Being valued builds our self-confidence and strengthens our self-view. Actively look for opportunities to be excited when others succeed, it will bring energy and warmth to the relationship.
- Don’t Ever Stop Engaging. Engaging with others emotionally requires skills and training. Instead of recognize people’s capacity to engage on a content level, try to call out moments with others engage on an emotional level. Statements such as, “That was really nice of you to say that,” or “When you said that, it really touched my heart on how much you care,” brings the awareness on the impact you have on each other and the importance of bringing the emotions in to the conversation.
- Don’t Fear Attachment. Emotionally connected directors understand the purpose and recognize the value of secure attachment. They aren’t afraid of forming bonds as they know that human beings thrive in secure and safe relationships with others.
- Don’t Stop Progress. Learning how to remove the blocks is a valuable skill to have. When people are stuck, they are often get stuck in content, but the struggle is actually with emotions. By becoming emotionally accessible, responsive, and engaged, you will be able to help them remove the emotional block that is keeping them stuck. When you address the stuck places by reconnecting people emotionally, you start to make the progress on moving the board forward. The emotional connection provides us the confidence we need to know that people each other’s back and see each other valued and important serving on the board.
- Don’t Take Board Relationships for Granted. Relationships are key to our board success. When we know how to create strong and secure relationships, we can overcome any challenge together. Building and nurturing relationships can be challenging but it is not doable. It takes work, like any other relationship. Once you start to be more emotionally connected, you start to have more fun with your board, as your experience and connection becomes personally satisfying.
As Einstein sought a unifying theory to make his discoveries of the physical universe into a coherent whole, becoming an effective board starts with developing emotional connections. As human beings, we have an innate need to be connected with people that we depend on. Our brains function at our best when we have a secure connection with each other. Based on the last 30-years of research and attachment-theory principles, the Emotional Connection process outlines a pathway for you to be an emotionally connected leader. John Naisbitt said, “The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.”