We all know that achieving results is key to a leader’s success. However, what makes a leader truly successful is all about what they can inspire and motivate other people to accomplish. Great leaders can walk into any situation, take a mental inventory of what needs to be accomplished, connect with people on a human level (both individually and collectively), and transform groups into high-performing teams.
If you consider every remarkable or outstanding accomplishment by any team, company, or even any individual, they have one thing in common: healthy relationships and strong bonds between and among the people who did the work.
At SGEi, we believe leadership is the ability to connect with and inspire the hearts and minds of other people to want to do what you need them to do. The reality is, however, that it’s impossible to connect with and inspire others without first building healthy relationships, and then managing relationships with and among a team of people. Great leaders understand that before they can deliver desired business results for their organization, they must first foster thriving relationships throughout the organization.
John Maxwell wrote, “Relationships are the foundation of leadership.” So, here are five ways to build strong relationships with your team, peers, and leaders:
1. Be available and approachable
When an employee is not comfortable bringing negative information, mistakes, or challenges to their managers, communication and relationships break down. If and when breakdowns or gaps in communication exist, relationships rarely form. On the flip side, when leaders are available and approachable, others feel more comfortable bringing you information, sharing feedback, and offering new ideas.
For you to master the first tip to building strong relationships with your team, you need to set time aside in your schedule where you can meet with a group or one-on-one to communicate.
2. Have honest conversations
Conversations are a two-way street. The more meaningful and productive the conversations, the more meaningful and productive relationships become. Great leaders understand the importance of quality time spent in simple yet meaningful conversations with employees, peers, partners, and even their senior leaders.
While it may go without saying that having honest conversations is needed for a good relationship, it may be one of the toughest things we do when it comes to our immediate boss or manager. In your role, you have to have constant dialogue about what you need and how you can be best supported. By the same token, ask your employees individually and as a collective team how you can help them in their role.
3. Show respect
The word “respect” originates from the Latin word, Respectus. This word means to look back at or have consideration for. Most people want to be seen, known, and considered. In the workplace, one of the best ways you can respect someone is to see all the good things they do and point it out to them. We often hear that the only time people get feedback is when something goes wrong, as we often overlook all the instances when things go right. As leaders at any level, in any industry, ensure you are actively observing and commenting on all the good things that you see, which includes what you see in your own senior leader.
4. Take an interest in others
Most of the time, we are more interested in how we will respond or what we will say next than what others have to say. We are even worse when others tell us what is important.
When it comes to people you work closely with every day (and especially with those you lead), consider if you really know them—do you know what and who are most important to them? To truly build a relationship with someone, you have to know their passions and interests and, even more importantly, converse with them about those things every day.
Focus on being more interested than interesting, and your relationships will go to the next level.
5. Establish trust
If you execute on the first four ways of building strong relationships with your team, then our fifth tip, establishing trust, takes care of itself.
The road to establishing trust is lined with two essential leadership attributes: credibility and respect. If you’re approachable and available to your team, peers, and leaders, always taking a genuine interest in their well-being today and potential growth in their future, you’ll quickly be recognized as a credible leader in your organization. If you respect other people, you’ll quickly gain respect all across your organization.
Results are undoubtedly necessary, and in many ways, the reason we’re hired for the jobs we do. However, building strong relationships with and among your team must happen first. Focus on relationships with the people who do the work, and their work will yield the desired business results.