THE BLOG
10/23/2014 05:59 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Become a Connective Leader Who Fosters Conviviality and Collaboration

Want to become a sought-after, connective leader? Then become the glue that bonds others together around their most talented sides. Consider this approach.

In experiments, psychologist David Trafimow and colleagues asked half of the study participants to think about how they were different from their friends and family and asked the other half to consider how they were similar to their loved ones. They then asked participants to describe themselves. Those who were asked to think of similarities gave descriptions that included more relationships and roles than those who had thought about their differences. That spurred them to feel closer to each other.

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To boost bonding among others so they are more apt to work (or play) well together, ask them, when together, to do two powerfully simple things that can be done rather quickly:

1. Write down the ways they are like each other. Hint: Create a level playing field. Writing rather than immediately sharing helps slow thinkers keep up with fast thinkers. Fast thinkers aren't smarter, just different in their thinking processes, and each kind has advantages and pitfalls, so they can accomplish more together than when a majority in a group think and speak at the same speed. Hint: Salespeople are often fast thinkers.

2. Share with each other what they wrote, going around the circle, one by one.

Bonus benefit: Other studies show that when you reflect on how you are similar to those with whom you are talking, you pay more attention to them. You care about them more. That spurs the other person to listen more closely to you.

What successful ghost writer, Bruce Kasanoff, advises as a path to self-promotion, "without being a jerk," is also central to bringing out someone's better side: "Be generous and expert, trustworthy and clear, open-minded and adaptable, persistent and present."

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Tip: Look past what's "wrong" with others, and instead see what's special about them in very pragmatic and actionable terms, suggests Kasanoff.

"A true leader is not one you look up to because they are the best. A true leader is one that draws the best out in you." -- Anne Warfield