Our leadership may come from within, but its foundation lies in relationships. Every successful leader knows that relationships are the lifeblood of success.
For a business to take off, for a venture to proceed, for an initiative to take strength takes partnership, support, friendship, collegiality. The most significant things we achieve are generally done in relationship with others.
Here are 11 ways to bring the right significance to the relationships you are working to build or maintain:
- Make the time. Cultivating deeper, stronger relationships takes time and effort. That means setting time aside to spend with those who are important to you. It means discovering their strengths and gifts and perspectives and accepting their imperfections. Think of relationships as investments that become more valuable over time.
- Call people by name. As Dale Carnegie used to say, a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. If you want to cultivate deeper, stronger relationships, you must remember people’s names correctly. No matter how bad your memory is, it’s possible to train yourself. And people will assume they’re important to you if you just remember them by their name.
- Be the one to start the conversation. Don’t wait for someone else to speak first, and don’t sit with your face buried in your phone. The best way to learn about others is by striking up a conversation. Ask genuine questions and then focus in and listen on the answers.
- Be respectful and empathetic when you have to tell people bad news. Keep your communications respectful and appropriate if you have to deliver bad news. Be direct but tactful, and communicate face-to-face in a private setting.
- Appreciate the value of diversity. Your leadership and your entire organization will be strengthened if you can open up to and truly accept people with different backgrounds, viewpoints, and beliefs. The more perspectives you have access to, the better your ability to do excellent work—no matter what you do.
- Look for, identify, and build on other people’s strengths. Everyone has something to contribute—and the better you know the people around you, the better you can leverage their strengths by delegating the right task to the right person. Give people assignments that let them excel and grow.
- Share the credit. As the old saying goes, there is no limit to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit. Acknowledge those who assisted and those who collaborated, because the more credit you give away, the more will come back to you. The more you shine the light on others, the brighter everything looks.
- Lift others up. Everyone rises when you build a culture where people lift each other up. When you see someone having a tough go of it, be quick to offer words of encouragement and look for ways to help. When someone messes up, don’t put them down (or allow anyone else to) but help them make things right and learn from the experience.
- Ban gossip. It’s human nature to talk about others, but as the leader, you need to set the example. There is no value in gossip. Refuse to take part, and make your disapproval clear.
- Own your errors. Since everybody makes mistakes from time to time, you can empower those around you by letting them see how you respond when you get it wrong. Set an example by holding yourself accountable, fixing what can be fixed, and moving on.
- Build trust. The one ingredient that’s crucial to any relationship is trust. Trust is built on integrity, consistency, confidence, and concern. When people are treated with honesty, kindness, faithfulness, and gentleness—when they are in an environment of trust—they respond in kind. There’s no greater force you can create within an organization than a team with high levels of commitment and trust.
At the end of the day, there is no relationship without communication; no leadership without respect; no team without trust; no venture without value; no business without respect. Make sure you keep what is important up close and personal.