In the continuing series of our 12 Key Leadership Competencies, relationship building is a leader’s willingness and ability to take the time and interest needed to establish, build and maintain deep relationships with all stakeholders that can impact success. A leader has to demonstrate strong relationship building in order to display a commitment to developing team members to be the best they can be, and to create a win-win environment with other business partners. A leader who is weak in this area will inhibit the entire team from reaching its maximum contribution and potential.
The definition that we at Proven Leaders Pipeline have developed for relationship building as a leadership competency is as follows:
Demonstrates skill at building credible and authentic relationships with direct staff, peers, clients and customers as well as vendors, suppliers and other outside resources; has a strong motivation and interest in building and growing such relationships for mutual benefit and reward rather than using the relationships for self enhancement.
As leaders grow in responsibility and impact, their focus must change from being an expert in their functional area to being a strong builder of solid relationships based on trust. Leaders cannot possibly get everything done by themselves; they need to rely on others to exponentially enhance results. This requires engaging people to participate, contribute and commit, and the best way for this to happen is by having a relationship that is built on trust, which in turn is built on actions that are mutually beneficial.
It has been said that trust is the glue that binds relationships. A leader must develop trust in those they lead, and that trust must be demonstrated by showing they are open to hearing feedback, open to new ideas and open to new perspectives and information that will aid in arriving at the best solution, option or decision.
John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach who led his teams to national championships has said “nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” This concept certainly applies to members of a corporate team who will excel when they realize that the leader is not primarily focused on advancing his or her own career, but advancing the mission or goals of the organization. Employees who know that their leader cares about them will produce far more than they are asked.
Our friend John Maxwell, in one of his more recent books, The 5 Levels of Leadership, describes the importance of relationship building. He says, “The leader begins to influence people with relationship, not just position (title or authority). Building relationships develops a foundation for effectively leading others. It also starts to break down organizational silos as people connect across the lines between their job descriptions or departments. When people feel liked, cared for, included, valued and trusted, they begin to work together with their leader and each other. And that can change the entire working environment.”
Leaders earn the right to influence when they can be trusted to act in the best interests of the other person or organization. Therefore, effective leadership is “other” focused and not “self” focused. Unfortunately today, there are too many leaders who have gone to the “dark side” and are focused on self and not on others. They are not building relationships – they are building their own power.
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Do you want to see if you are strong in relationship building, as well as our other Key Competencies? Take our assessment and learn if this is a strength or an area for development. In either case, you will also receive some tips and suggestions to enhance this leadership competency. Visit our website at www.proven-leaders.com and click on Take the Assessment.