Leading with the brain in mind.

Relatedness: The Key to Employee Engagement

Do you want to engage others and increase their commitment to your organization? Let’s look at a key factor in how the social brain works.

The need for people to experience a sense of belonging and attachment to other people is the essence of the social brain theory, the idea that animals in complex social groups have evolved larger brains. Current neuroscience research shows that our brains are wired to be social and that a feeling of being connected to others is essential to our well-being.

Organizations have become less personal due to rapid growth, workplace virtualization, competitive pressures, and such communication tools as email, text and voicemail. As handy as electronic tools are for staying in touch, they are not a substitute for face-to-face interaction. Leaders often talk more about numbers and technology than they do about people and relationships. Consequently, as organizations grow, the feeling of connection or relatedness decreases.

Fostering genuine relationships is about knowing others, and letting them know you. When a leader recognizes, accepts, or embraces what is important to others, the dedication and commitment to the leader and their cause increases significantly. Leaders who are skilled at leading with heart know what it takes to build relatedness with those they lead, among team members and throughout the organization.

Exemplary leaders build relatedness with individuals, teams, organizations, and/or communities by basing relationships on optimism, trust, and acceptance. This forms the foundation for powerful connections between leaders and followers.

Some leaders build relationships through heartfelt messages and passion, often without being in our physical presence. Some of the most notable leaders who have done so include Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and the Dalai Lama. A common element in the leadership of these greats has been their gift to inspire and connect by sharing themselves through heartfelt messages packed with optimism. By being authentic and optimistic, they have been able to successfully build relationships with millions, without being face to face with most of them.

Relatedness is the key to unlocking commitment, collaboration and engagement.


Sandra McDowell, MA, CEC, PCC

Sandra has a Masters in Leadership, a Certified Executive Coach (PCC) designation and a certificate in Neuroleadership. She is a sought after speaker and facilitator (www.sandramcdowell.com) and the past recipient of a national and international young leader award. Sandra is serving as Interim Chief Operating Officer for First Credit Union where she has been part of the executive team for over 15 years, and she is the driving force behind a leadership and coaching culture. Sandra advocates that leadership is everyone’s responsibility, and she has taken her passion online by developing the eLeadership Academy to support the development of high-performance leaders (www.e-leadershipacademy.com). @LeadersThinkBIG

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS