I was just watching psychologist Hedy Schleifer’s TEDxTelAviv talk on The Power of Connection. She speaks quite beautifully of three aspects of connection between people in relationship: the space, the bridge, and the encounter. Her model can serve us in Transformational Leadership in a powerful way. And, in fact, in the end of this 20-minute talk, she speaks of her dream for connections between nations.
A part of Transformational Leadership is creating a space in which transformation can happen – a space which contains the optimal conditions for the greatest potential to unfold. Hedy Schleifer speaks about the space between people or between people and organizations as the space where our relationships live. What a beautiful way to think about how we are connecting with others in any kind of relationship. We must take good care of the space between us. That means holding clear intention about that space – what kind of space should it be, what are the ideal attributes for that space, what is the energy or feeling that we are encouraging within that space? As Transformational Leaders, it is our job to create optimal spaces for healthy, productive, supportive, co-creative relationships. Along with those we serve, we are constantly co-creating the container in which our relationships live. So the invitation is to be clear and intentional about the container we are creating together.
The second aspect of connection, is also important critical. If we are going to do transformational work, we have to be willing to walk into the world of those we are serving. We have to meet them where they are. And the only way to get to where they are is to build a bridge between where we are and where they are – a bridge that we can cross over to reach them and that they can cross over to meet us.
Once the bridge is built, we can step into her third aspect of connection: the encounter. As we stand on our side of the bridge and look over to the other side where those we serve stand, we may have one set of perceptions and ideas about what needs to happen and what our role as leader might be. As we cross the bridge, we may start to realize that things might not be exactly as we had imagined. And when we meet those we serve on their side of the bridge – in their own world – and experience life in their world, our perceptions and ideas may change radically. When we invite them to share their perspectives and understanding about what is needed, perhaps there is even greater shift.
By inviting those we serve to share their wisdom and understanding from their world, we gain new insights. By inviting them to visit us on our side of the bridge, we open the door to further insights, both for them and for us. And then when we stand together on the bridge between our worlds, we can listen to the greater potential wanting to unfold and begin to co-create a plan for moving forward together.
Through this process, we have nurtured and developed the relationship space. There may be conflicts, challenges, disagreements, and misunderstandings, but the more we hold that relationship space with clear and positive intention for the unfolding of a greater good, the more things begin to align. What might have seemed impossible begins to show a glimmer of hope.
Building anything important and lasting takes time, care, nurture, compassion, wisdom, commitment, and understanding. Understanding these three aspects of connection as Hedy Schleifer lays them out can open new doors of possibility.