Focus on the Connection

“Communication, consistency, dedication, and trust are all key when it comes to engagement and they all fall under connection.”  – Kindra Maples

Kindra Maples, Founder and Owner of Culture Crush Business LLC, says when leaders take time to build authentic connections with their people, everything else falls into place. Below, Kindra shares the behavior-based relationship lessons she learned from working with animals and explains how they apply to people. After you read, listen in with the link at the end of this post to learn how to be a more supportive, human-centered, and intentional leader who creates connections that last a lifetime.

Truth You Can Act On

1. Connection Requires Intention

At work, you can easily set up time to talk to somebody on the phone. And say, ‘Okay, cool. We connected.’ But at home, you can’t necessarily get away with that. You can’t check a box. Everybody has different love languages. So what I think counts as connecting, my boyfriend does not, and vice versa. For example, last night I had some work I had to finish, and he was totally fine with it. He said, ‘Just sit next to me.’ He was watching the football game, and I was on my computer. To him, that counted as us spending time together. To me, absolutely not. To me, I’m like, ‘What is our intentional plan this weekend?’

2. Supportive Actions Propel Connection

One of my mentors was very high up in his role in operations, and he taught me, it didn’t matter what your title was. He was in meetings with bigwigs all day long, but then he was setting up chairs with my staff and I for events. He was very supportive and willing to get his hands dirty. But again, to our topic of connection, he made a connection with myself. He made it intentional to make a connection with my team. He was extremely supportive of his team. So I think support is huge for what it looks like for a leader that connects.

3. Human-Centered Mindsets Win

A leader that connects has to be human-centered. So again, Tim, this mentor that I had, he knew that yeah, we were a world-famous zoo, but who runs the world-famous zoo? The people do. Everyone goes to see the tigers and the monkeys and stuff like that. But if you don’t have staff running the place, nobody can come in and see those animals. So he was very human-centered. He knew that at the end of the day, it was the people that were making things happen and making a difference. So I think that is another very strong quality of a leader that focuses on connection.

4. Make Deposits to Grow Relationships

Constant conversation, constant connections, and constant interactions naturally deepen connections. When I worked at the San Diego Zoo, I was making this transition from working with animals to working with people but even when I was working on the operations team, I still had one macaw that I worked with because I was one of the lead trainers for him. But I was the one who carved out the most time. I could put him up in a tree, knowing full well that he could fly away whenever he wanted to. But I would put him up in the tree and say, ‘You have 15 minutes, go play.’ And then I could call him back down. And other trainers were like, ‘I cannot do that with him, nor do I have the trust that he’s not going to fly away.’ But I knew that I could because of the constant time that I put in.


Book Recommendation:

Listen to the full episode: 187:  Focus on the Connection with Kindra Maples

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