It's shocking how many top managers and leaders don't get how meaningful personal relationships are to the success of their tasks. I believe our life, business, and conquest are about relationships. If you're with me and feel the fire to gain insights and be challenged on relationship building, this resource is for you. I've added a check-up list and valuable (free) resources on relationships, networking, and communication. After reading, consider whether self-awareness and meaningful relationships may be the next best thing to boost your growth.
Humans thrive on meaningful relationships
We thrive on meaningful relationships at work, at home, and in the media. You´ll hear me talking about genuine and meaningful connections to distinguish them from the irrelevant engagements we often encounter. The kind of relations we respond positively to are those in which we sense true and mutual appreciation and recognition. We feel the other person took the time to listen, understand and consider how to support our needs.
> At work, we tend to overlook the importance of authentic bonds. Before diving into why that is, I want to showcase three scenarios in which outstanding relationships are crucial for goal achievement, team functioning, and business growth. I also want to show how top managers and leaders can impact those if they are self-aware and confident.
In leadership, relationships matter most: the 360º model
Top managers and leaders need to care for solid engagement and relationships in these three areas: colleagues and stakeholders, networking, and family/personal relationships. As you can see, those cover all your relationships. I want you to understand that you need those balanced to thrive.
1. Relationships with colleagues and stakeholders are crucial because that´s the only way to get to know your colleagues, be aware of their skills and competencies, and effectively handle HR processes such as performance management or succession plans. If you want to understand what is at stake for them, be fair and respectful; it would be best to get to know your colleagues, peers, board members, or investors.
Challenges: for most people, the biggest challenge is to establish a professional relationship embracing a genuine personal interest. That's feeling comfortable with the correct balance between personal and professional.
Professionalism and expectations are the second significant challenge I want to highlight here. We´re used to understanding professionalism as excelling in expertise and strategy; that applies as well in top management and leadership roles. However, energetic matching is equally vital between a CEO, the board, investors, or stakeholders for fruitful relationships. Again that can only happen when we invest in understanding and sharing in both directions.
2. Networking and cross industries relationships. I believe this is the secret sauce all great leaders should know how to create and handle. These relationships provide very relevant information about their industry and the development of their company. They are a fantastic setting to provide value and become a leading voice in your industry.
Challenge: the challenge in networking is to discern between confidential information about your company and what you would love to share to establish a solid relationship with your competitor without closing the doors to potential cooperation or partnerships. that may turn into collaboration or a partnership. If you excel at managing borders between genuine interest, shared expertise, leading industry voice, and confidentiality, you'll succeed.
3. Family and friend relationships are your fuel. As one of my fav Hitchcock characters quotes, “We all go crazy at times.” Family and friends are a healthy barrier and shelter for you to release, relax and rejuvenate.
The challenges here are priorities and time. To me, this part of my life is sacred. I've no shame in my career being my top priority, but I've built my two businesses to take time off with my spouse regularly. My family is my food and comfort and the energy that fuels my professional side.
I believe you can only get as much as you invest. You decide how much time you spend engaging with the people in your life.
I want to share some insights from my 1:1 coaching sessions about the expectations and beliefs that withhold us from prioritizing relationships. Last is my personal experience as a non-emotional CEO, leader, and founder.
1. Leaders still bound their career growth to what they do more than how they do it.
They've inherited this from the all management approach. What results do we deliver? What expertise do we carry? How do we position ourselves to scale the corporate ladder?
Downside: this approach has changed dramatically over the last ten years. However, despite research and literature showcasing soft skills and competencies as crucial, in my experience, leaders don't prioritize them. Either they take them for granted, as a "natural you are born with," or they wait till the HR department raises the yellow flag and encourages them to take action in the form of an executive coaching program.
2. Leaders bound their positioning to their expertise, not to their network.
Despite all the research and literature proving otherwise, top managers and leaders still have the feeling that they must excel first and foremost and the technical part of their job. They prioritize the content and the technical side of their work over their relationships.
The downside of this approach is that they overlook valuable information about challenges, risks, and opportunities for their company resulting from cultivating genuine relationships with other industry leaders.
Though top managers and leaders are more readily aware, they may still look at relationships as spending time on something that does not result in an immediate result..
The number 1 problem ALL relationships nail down.
In my experience, the number one problem is this simple:
We fail to see added value for ourselves.
Most of my clients evolve from not seeing the point to knowing that relationship building is not about us but others. It's not about the value we'll find in it. It's about the value we have to share. That's our skills, knowledge, expertise, practice, and values. Being able to share without hesitation brings value to the relationship first and gives us value in return.
Relationship building nails down to offering value instead.
What do I have to share? How can it be of interest to them? How can I communicate it to support their growth?
Outstanding leadership is about understanding the purpose, the people, the planet, and the profit for them all.
Great leaders understand that:
Solid relationships are the glue that holds a team and a company together. They invest time in engaging, getting to know each other, sharing, educating, and strengthening the bonds.
Personal relationships are the ones solving critical situations.
Expertise is the basis, and it solves discussions when we´re talking about business challenges or growth. When we´re in risky situations with our company facing a big employee layoff, a significant acquisition, a critical resignation, or appointing a board member out of the board, being able to explain it and defend it is what matters and depends on trust and solid relations.
Relationships are a breathing example of a company's values. I remember the story of a client who, as an owner and CEO of a company, shared with me his concern because, most probably, he had made the wrong recruitment for a leadership position. He realized it during the first team building, as he was observing that new person and noticed that there was no connection between that leader and the team. This newly appointed person showed no interest in engaging genuinely with the other people and finding out who they are, what they do, and what they are interested in. He shared this was essential to him as CEO because genuine interest is one of the company values, and he had overlooked it when searching for new talent.
Relationship building is about offering value first: use this checklist.
Here is what I practice myself and how I lead my clients into building meaningful and fruitful connections. Please, use this checklist to self-assess your relationship-building strengths and where you should invest more time and energy yourself.
Self-awareness is the basis you need to develop. It's impossible to offer anything you are not aware of in the first place:
As a non-emotional but empathic woman, I'm grateful for the quality of my relationships. I've told you how important my family is to fuel me and my career. I'm that supportive of my clients. I know they've got everybody's back, and I want to have theirs. Besides, they're genuine people seeking real growth. They're not in for a "make-up" but deep and long-lasting transformation.
If you´re interested in a DIY, check these four resources:
Daniel Goleman´s classic Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Everything has to do with emotional intelligence, self-awareness, social awareness, and managing relationships.
Daniel Pink, The Puzzle of Motivation. Understanding what motivates others and why we put energy there is what relationships are all about.
Susan Cain, The Power of Introverts. As an extrovert, this has been powerful for me to build relationships and lead introverted people.
Joe Navarro, What everybody is saying. Such a great book! An ex FBI agent explains how to build awareness by reading people´s bodies.
I like to walk my talk and provide you with your support. The best way to reach out is a 1:1 Discovery Call to discuss where you´re at and what would be your best next move forwards. I open a few slots every month. Please, check my availability and book your call here: https://calendly.com/simonaspilak/coaching-call
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