No matter the product we sell nor the service we offer, one thing is certain. We are all in the people business. Make no mistake, our success (yes all of us) is dependent upon the relationships that we establish and maintain. Research has shown that a prime predictor of a leader’s success is the quality and depth of the relationships they have established and maintained. Therefore leaders need to ensure they manage their relationships as if they were part of the organisation’s asset register.
We all know that strong relationships are built on trust and mutual respect. So, as leaders, we have to constantly manage our relationships to ensure we are establishing this trust and building on it in every interaction we have. I was reminded of the need to work hard at all my relationships recently when I came across an article titled ‘5 Ways You Can Improve Your Relationships’ by Billy Arcement. The article suggests there are five key concepts that we all could embrace if we were to take an active approach to managing our relationships effectively. These key concepts are:
- Don’t antagonise. Collaborative conflict is one of the characteristics of a high performing team but nobody likes the antagonist. Being the antagonist who always disagrees with everybody gets people off side and makes it very hard for you to present your own ideas. Be respectful in the way you challenge other’s views or ideas and don’t get personal. A little patience and understanding goes a long way and builds your credibility as a leader.
- Say thanks. Show appreciation to your people, even for the smallest of things. Saying thank you and appreciating what they do often is a behaviour that will set you apart from other leaders, particularly those that do not show their appreciation. Ensure you are authentic in your delivery and your tone, body language and behaviour support the intent of your message. Expressing your gratitude will help build trust and respect within the team and will result in your team members appreciating you and each other more!
- Do unto others. The age old Golden Rule, ‘treat others how you would want to be treated’ has never been more important. You are the leader, your behaviours and manners will set the tone for the team. You must show genuine respect to all that you interact with which in turn helps enhance the levels of trust within the relationship. Respect and a desire to thank people for their efforts are the traits of a truly servant leader and can only lead to better outcomes for all.
- Speak clearly. Being able to communicate information clearly and effectively is an important part of being a leader. Think about how you intend to deliver your message and the power of the words you will use. Careful consideration of both of these can enhance the effectiveness of your message. You also need to give as much importance to listening as you do to speaking. Be an active listener.
- Be calm. You can’t control how others act (or react), but you can influence their responses. By choosing to stay calm in the face of conflict, you are in fact diffusing the situation. It is really hard to argue with a person who is cool, calm and collected.
Effective relationships are critical to our success in business (and in life), so start treating them with respect and develop relationship management plans to ensure they remain effective and mutually beneficial. As Theodore Roosevelt said "The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people."