Updated: Mar 26
When you think about a new year’s resolution, your first thought might not be one concerning your leadership effectiveness. This year, instead of the traditional:
Join a Gym
Eliminate a Bad Habit
Take More Time Off
I propose you make a resolution concerning how you’re going to function as a leader, in both your work and personal life. Here is my suggestion:
As a leader, in 2017 I will focus first on relationships.
Relationships are the groundwork, the foundation, on which all of the rest of the work of leadership rests. Without positive relationships with your team, the people you serve and others who influence your success, the tasks of leadership are far more difficult.
Stephen Covey has a great metaphor for building relationships in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He talks about relationships as “emotional bank accounts” where the positive things we do, the ways in which we feed and nurture the relationship, are like making deposits in the account. When trouble arises or when trust is violated, there is a corresponding withdrawal.
As a leader, how will you make deposits in your relational bank accounts in 2017? Here are my top five tips for doing just that:
Invest time. Spend time getting to know your team beyond the tasks they perform. Learn what is important to them, what motivates them and who they are when they aren’t at work. Be genuinely interested – have conversations that have nothing to do with work. Taking the time for morning greetings and remembering an upcoming special occasion go a long way to building positive relationships.
Communicate openly. People need to know what is expected, where things are going and their role in the process. They also need to have the opportunity to express their feelings. Open communication is as much about listening as it is about talking. Seeking the input of your team on issues that affect them creates an investment in the outcome– and in the relationship. Open communication is also important in building trust and reducing conflict.
Express appreciation. Good, solid relationships are based in mutual respect and feeling valued. It is not enough to think good things about your team members – you need to say good things about them. Express appreciation directly and give accolades in public. When your people feel valued, they want to live up to your positive opinion over and over again.
Demonstrate loyalty. Loyalty is an essential ingredient in successful relationships. Support your team when things get tough and challenges arise from inside or outside the organization. When conflicts arise within the team, and they will, it’s important that all team members feel supported and valued. Your team needs to know that they can count on you in the good times and bad.
Deposit more than you withdraw. Just like a monetary bank account, the stability of a relational bank account depends on positive cash flow. The cushion that will see you through rough times is ensuring you have more than the minimum balance in the account at all times. Give more to your team than you expect them to give to you and you will always have a solid relationship.
Having solid relationships is essential to your effectiveness as a leader, and developing successful relationships requires intention and attention. In 2017, resolve to focus first on relationships. I guarantee you will Increase Your Effectiveness.
Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership Effectiveness expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for developing effective leadership qualities that get results.