Relating is an essential Leadership Skill that needs to be at the heard of your management style.
I’d been hired to provide a Leadership Program for a large company. Sipping my coffee, I walked into the office of the CEO, and noticed something. A large whiteboard stood in a place of prominence. That wasn’t unusual. What was, though, was the single word written on it: “people”. He saw me looking at the board and pointed to it.
“Do you know why I keep that there?” he asked rhetorically. “I keep it there to remind me of what makes a company great. It’s the people.”
He had it right and harnessed a powerful concept that many leaders overlook: without staying connected to and relating well with the people in an organization, it can’t perform at its best. He used this whiteboard with its simple message to remind him that even when he was extremely busy, he needed to maintain connection with his team. Relating to others matters.
Relating: The Humble but Essential Leadership Skill
Relating isn’t a very flashy word. If you were hoping for something more grandiose, it’s understandable. Many of the top-level professionals I provide leadership coaching for look at me blankly when I tell them that relating, or the ability to bring out the best in others, is at the heart of effective leadership.
As a leader, you have a natural inclination to provide purposeful leadership to your staff. Individual and group development, creating a supportive climate, and accepting others for who they are is all part of that process.
But even the best leadership development plan can still be missing a key ingredient. Team members must know that you can relate to what they are going through. Whether they tell you or not, they yearn to be recognized for their strengths and gently guided in their weaker areas. They are hungry for a feeling of connection—not only with their fellow team members—but with you, their leader.
“The easiest kind of relationship for me is with ten thousand people. The hardest is with one.” –Joan Baez, American singer-songwriter
Bringing Out the Best in Your Team
Developing our ability to relate effectively with others will strengthen not only our individual performance but organizational performance as well. According to an article by FastCompany focusing on an individual’s strengths, being empathetic, and giving recognition, are key ways to foster the sense of relating.
The article also points to a startling statistic. In a study conducted by DDI and Harris Interactive, 98 percent of employees with good leaders are motivated to do their best work. Merely 11 percent of team members do their best work with ineffective managers, however. What key traits differentiate an ineffective leader from a purposeful one? And how can you cultivate strong leadership?
Purposeful, effective leaders have similar traits. These leaders:
- Promote high levels of motivation for teamwork
- Foster open dialogue with team members
- Build good rapport and high trust within teams
- Respect everyone’s opinion, even if different from their own
- Help people to learn, improve, and grow
- Address issues that get in the way of team performance directly
- Provide accountability in goal setting
- Speak freely in the presence of “authorities”
- Listen to and learn from subordinates
Bringing Out the Best in Others Requires Self-Awareness
Good leadership skills have always been important. During the current challenging times, they are even more so. A self-aware leader is better positioned to be effective in the current climate. Having an open mindset pointed toward growth and relating well to others enables you to build a stronger, more adaptable team and achieve greater results.
Do you consider yourself a self-aware leader? Would your team say the same? If it’s time to shift your mindset and improve this key leadership skill, please get in touch for a free consultation.