This week I was reminded of a concept developed and shared by Dr. Henry Cloud, who is a leadership expert, clinical psychologist, and best-selling author.  Cloud addressed this issue of, “when you get to your limit of performance, how do you find more?”  Cloud suggests that we need relationship to drive performance (and our health).  To help with relationship, Cloud says that it is helpful to be able to identify the four “places” you can be, or that your company and co-workers can be, in terms of relationships.  Those four places include the following:  (1) Isolated Corner; (2) Bad Connection; (3) Pseudo-Good Connection; and (4) Real Connection. 

Just from the names of the four places alone, I think you can guess that the ideal place to be is Real Connection.  However, we will all find ourselves at times in the other quadrants.  The first quadrant, Isolated Corner, is when you feel alone, detached, ignored, or otherwise on an island by yourself.  The second quadrant, Bad Connection, is when something in the connection you have with another makes you feel bad.  The third quadrant, Pseudo-Good Connection, is when you just want to look to something to make you feel good.  The fourth quadrant, Real Connection, is when you can be who you truly are.

The challenge for leaders is to recognize on an on-going, proactive basis which of the four places their team members are hanging out in, and to help each person move toward Real Connection if possible.  Our own company recently identified that some team members were starting to get isolated and some were starting to develop bad connections.  With this group, we’ve instituted some lunches as a first step to help these teammates get to know each other on a more meaningful level, help some members be more included, and help some re-generate their connections.  We’ve also emphasized striking a work-life balance to assist with moving personal relationships to Real Connection.  With a little effort and conversation these teammates will quickly move to Real Connection in work and home life, but it takes constant monitoring and awareness of where we are each hanging out.

Which of the four places do you think you are in with your work relationships and personal relationships?  What steps could you take to move toward Real Connection?  What are some things your supervisor or team members might do to help you in your relationships?