Florin Lungu - Are you a director or a connector?

I used to believe that leadership was all directing and demanding.

I grew up in a household that had been molded by hardline communism. My mother was strict and uncompromising – her word was law. She ran a tight ship at the clothing production facility where she worked as a manager and she ran a tight ship at home, too, assigning my brother and me chores that were expected to be done on time without question.

We called her “the boss.”

Her father, my grandfather, also ran a tight ship. My brother and I would stay with him and our grandmother during our summers off school, and he would put us right to work. We would get up early and tend the garden and the farm as he instructed us to.

I went on to work in factories with similar hardline processes and chains of command – production was black-and-white. There was little room for collaboration or innovation on an assembly line.

These were the experiences that colored my idea of leadership. It wasn’t until I decided to become a coach that I realized it could be – and should be – more than that.

To me it made sense to become a coach – coaching and leading went hand-in-hand. As a leader I was already skilled in directing others; coaching was just leading on a smaller scale, I thought. I would be giving my clients advice and telling them how they should proceed to achieve their goals.

But as I pursued my coaching certification, I learned that, really, people intuitively know what their next step is. They don’t need to be told what to do. A coach is not a director. They are a collaborator – they are another perspective that is there to ask enough insightful questions to draw answers out of their client.

And as I started coaching, I realized – they were right. My clients got their best results when I was their partner and not their instructor.

Becoming an effective coach created that perspective shift. As a leader, I started pausing to listen before I offered advice, asking questions to gain insight, and seeking to work together instead of alone. And not only did my relationships with my team shift, but so did my results.

We will only see the full benefit of working together once we start accepting “together” as a valid form of leadership – connecting instead of directing.

Leaders will need three things to make this shift…

  1. Humility. To ask for others’ input, we have to recognize we don’t have the whole picture ourselves – and others have valuable things to say. We must let others know we need them, and that also requires having our own ego in check.
  2. Curiosity. Keeping an open mind is fundamental to accepting others’ contributions. Their perspectives have been formed by their experiences which makes their insights unique and irreplaceable, and your curiosity is the key to making your team members comfortable enough to share them.
  3. Effort. The relationship that results is natural, but connection is intentional. When you make it a point to connect with the people on your team, they feel valued – and when they feel valued, they feel their ideas are welcomed.

Is this a shift you are looking to make as a leader? Or are you a naturally collaborative person?

No two leaders lead quite the same way – and your leadership style will tell you whether you are more of a director or a connector. If you’d like to discover a new level of relationship and results, you can take a free assessment here to find out your leadership style.

That’s all for now,


Oh, one more thing…  Feedback – another essential skill great leaders master. 

If you are in the Gothenburg area, I’d like to invite you to join me for a morning seminar where I’m going to reveal 4 Keys to Offering Personalized Feedback that Touches the Heats and Minds of People without Being Seen as Rude or Overly Critical

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