The question any good leader always asks is “How do I better connect with my team?”

My question back is “Have you connected with yourself first?”

The human heart longs to be accepted and to feel it belongs. We were made for connection and this never changes, it may simply shift decibels from a loud, expressive, attention seeking child to a quiet, insecure or controlling boss.

Depending on the numerous curve balls and grenades that have been launched at us through this life and the “valley of shadow of the death” we have walked through, we will all respond differently to connecting with ourselves and to others. Those who embark on a healing journey connect better as they have evaluated the wounds and scars, gotten healing for some and have barricaded others so they are not constantly jabbed at as they heal. They have healthy boundaries and are intentionally re-building a healthy belief system. The beauty and mystery of it all is as we consciously become aware of our brokenness and need of a healing journey, we can better connect to and empathize with the journey of others. Each soul is on a journey in a fallen and turbulent world. But within this world there’s a lot of light, joy and greatness to be explored.

A large number of us are actually disconnected from our emotions and thus find it super awkward when others are connected and “feeling everything”. Being authentic with ourselves by exploring our emotions and level of “soul prosperity” opens our eyes to the daily struggle a human heart can go through and the dire need to lead and connect with compassion. We begin to read our team not only on performance level but heart level as we begin to discern what is vibrating from their souls. We begin to see the unseen, hear the inaudible and reach into the darkness with our light. The pain, wounding, rejection that is masked in Haley’s ever smiley face, and “productive” work needs to be addressed. We do this because we aim to be transformational leaders who impact beyond sales and numbers. We are responsible for the hearts within our care.

So how does a leader create a place where masks can slowly be left at the door, wounds can begin to heal and the team can begin moving in one spirit into greater heights? by being a safe person and creating a safe space.

This is a difficult and rewarding task as to be a safe person means we feel safe and secure on the very inside of us. A safe leader is one who is connected with and aware of their internal turmoil as well as their ability to steward peace within them and around them. One can then begin to understand and discern what to do with the turmoil they see in another’s heart and speak peace into their storm. Being a responsible leader is taking responsibility of your “stuff” and not letting it explode all over others. This can be done in numerous ways including various types of therapy, counselling and growing in spiritual disciplines. After all, we are first spirit and all of life flows from what harbours in our hearts.

Consciously or not, we are all experts at sensing lack of authenticity. Your team sniffs it out and calls bluff. So you only receive a percentage of their investment as they have internally ascertained that they will receive little or no return on their investment in you and your vision. The heart only opens up to an authentic leader. Full potential is only released as a leader connects to the gold within the heart of his/her employees. This takes risk, investment in time and emotions (vulnerability) and authenticity. Connection is a spiritual matter. No amount of team building, training programs and staff parties will help you connect if you haven’t dealt with you. You need to deal with “the man in the mirror”.

So, back to the Sound of Music. We all know this type of leader. Captain Georg von Trap has disconnected and now runs his home like a Navy ship. There’s no room for emotional connection. So masks on for everyone!

Wearing a mask seemingly protects us and disconnection numbs us from pain but the pain never goes away. It simmers down on the inside, in the basement, awaiting its time to be acknowledged and healed or triggered to step forward. A good question to begin exploring your healing journey is “What has your pain response been over the different areas in your life”?

A healed leader allows themselves to feel and be vulnerable. As the leader drops the masks, this gives freedom for the team to also drop their masks and safely bring their authentic selves forward. This is when we step into the “gold zone”, where divine ideas are dreamed up and a healthy unstoppable team spirit takes over. The productivity capacity of the human soul bathes in authenticity and shrivels up in toxic environments managed by masks and cages.

We must learn to lead with compassion and to lead with compassion we must have compassion for ourselves. We do this by acknowledging the battle scars and wounding we have acquired and then bravely embark on a healing journey, beholding the greatness we have been called to and forging forward knowing that we don’t do it alone. That in the dark nights, we remember, our Creator left a light on for us and that if we seek, we shall truly find not only Him but also the purpose we were uniquely designed and created for.

Honour your journey by honouring your scars, working through the pain and trauma so the gold may burst forth. Underneath every ash pile, there’s a beautiful rose struggling to burst through. He clearly says to us: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11. This means you were born on purpose, for a purpose and so is each and every soul you come into contact with. Honour that.

You have two choices; to be part of a greater story – the healing journey of another heart as you unveil the beauty within them and the gold they carry, or to be the name mentioned to their therapist as they heal from the battle scars from being led by you – an unhealed, uncompassionate leader. Actually, there’s a third option; creating minions. Minions who lead just like you by leaving carnage of souls everywhere they go as they mercilessly hack their way to the top. You choose.

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