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Leaders Touch a Heart Before They Ask for a Hand
1 Kings 12:1–24
A LEADER can’t connect with people only when he is communicating to groups; he must connect with individuals. The stronger the relationship and connection between individuals, the more likely the follower will want to help the leader. Some leaders have problems because they believe that followers must take the responsibility to connect. But successful leaders always initiate. They take the first step and then make the effort to continue building relationships.
When a leader has done the work to connect with his people, you can see it in the way the organization functions. Employees show incredible loyalty and a strong work ethic. The people aspire to the vision of the leader. The impact is incredible.
Connecting requires giving. The power-hungry Rehoboam wanted to flex his political muscles more than he desired to connect with his people. Rehoboam never learned the Law of Connection. If you desire to connect with others, check your motives:
1. Get beyond yourself.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer asserted, “Whatever you have received more than others—in health, in talents, in ability, in success… all this you must not take to yourself as a matter of course. In gratitude for good fortune, you must render some sacrifice of your own life for another life.” Selfishness and insecurity usually lie at the heart of those who fail to get beyond themselves. Clearly, Rehoboam never got beyond himself. His bullying earned him not more respect, but contempt. To connect with people, remain others—minded and remember that leadership is a privilege.
2. Grow beyond yourself.
Mahatma Gandhi once remarked, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” Had Rehoboam gleaned from the experience of the elders, he would have discovered how little he knew about leading. But this cocky and unteachable young man missed a great opportunity for growth—and so destroyed the nation. If you want to grow beyond yourself, remain humble and teachable.
3. Give beyond yourself.
Individuals with low self-esteem almost always focus chiefly on themselves. Conversely, a study from the University of Michigan revealed that people who regularly volunteer their time heighten their zest for living and increase their life expectancy.
Rehoboam had no interest in what he could give; he aimed to get the maximum. Effective leaders must persistently ask themselves, “What am I doing for others?” Be a river, not a reservoir.
4. Go beyond yourself.
“When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced,” goes a Middle Eastern saying. “May you live your life so that when you die, the world will cry, and you will rejoice.” Every great leader has the ability to connect. If you want to be a better leader, you must learn to connect with people. Do it, and you will dramatically raise your level of leadership. Do it well, and people will follow you anywhere.
When You Connect with People
Connecting with people isn’t complicated, but it takes effort. Observe how Rehoboam neglected this priority:
1. Your people are more willing to take action when you first move them with emotion.
Even when King Solomon’s elders advised Rehoboam that he could win the people’s hearts forever by lightening their workload, he turned a deaf ear. When he showed no concern for their welfare, they sought another leader who would listen. When you remain open to your people’s needs, they will remain open to your vision. When you take action to meet their needs, they will take action to fulfill your vision. Wise leaders discern and meet the needs of their people.
2. When you give first, your people will give in return.
Rehoboam squandered multiple opportunities to give to his people. It may seem paradoxical, but a leader gets more by giving more. When you give of your time, talent, and possessions, you receive much more in return.
3. When you connect with individuals, you gain the attention of crowds.
Too arrogant to walk among his people, Rehoboam tried to lead Israel impersonally from behind the palace walls. While the nature of leadership often requires speaking before groups, effective leaders understand that true connection happens one-on-one.
4. When you reach out to your people, they will reach back toward you.
The initial confrontation between Rehoboam and his people took place when they came to him; he was so out of touch he couldn’t see they were on the verge of revolting. Rehoboam was a reactive leader rather than a proactive one. When it became clear he had caused his people’s displeasure, he pointed a finger at them. As a result, his kingdom ripped apart.
Whether you have just taken over a leadership position or are well established, you must connect with your people if you are to succeed. Remember, the telltale sign of a great leader is not what he has accomplished on his own, but what he has been able to accomplish through others. That happens only through connection.
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