All of business and all of life is about relationships. Phenomenal leaders understand that humans are starving for authentic relationships. In their classic leadership book The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, legendary leadership authors James M. Kouzes and Barry M. Posner describe leadership as a relationship. It’s the quality of this relationship that matters most when engaged in getting extraordinary things done. “A leader-constituent relationship characterized by fear and distrust will never produce anything of lasting value. A relationship characterized by mutual respect and confidence will overcome the greatest adversities and leave a legacy of significance.”
Phenomenal leaders understand that humans are starving for authentic relationships.
At one of my conferences, my colleague Ellen Rohr was teaching from the stage on leadership. She asked the audience what some of their leadership challenges were. A guy in the audience complained that his employee wanted to be his friend. “Oh, that’s terrible!” Ellen teased with her boisterous, in-your-face style. “I can’t imagine anything worse than that!” she exclaimed.
Why is it that leaders and managers avoid having a relationship with team members? Many business owners and leaders worry that if they get too close to their employees they will be taken advantage of. They fear the employee will fail to perform and will expect leniency. While that is certainly a possibility—and I have personally had that happen to me—the instructions in this book will help you build a meaningful personal relationship while maintaining a strong professional relationship. Most people haven’t learned how to be authentic with one another, and therefore have not been able to maintain the balance between the two. This is a relationship skill that can be developed. It is abundantly clear that when there is at minimum a relationship of mutual respect and trust, more can be accomplished. I seek to take leaders even beyond that point.
What’s the alternative? To work side by side with people you don’t know anything about? To spend the majority of your waking hours with people you don’t trust, and maybe even despise? This is precisely the problem in many workplaces today. We don’t trust the person next to us, mainly because we don’t know him or her. Or maybe it’s because the leader hasn’t created the right environment for healthy relationships to prosper. Phenomenal leaders understand that leadership is a relationship.
Positive relationships are built on trust and respect. As you’ll discover in this book, before we care for something, we have to value it. Before we respect someone, we must value that person. This is why the first step in building community is valuing people. Not for what they’ve done, but for who they are. Human beings have inherent value and should be respected and dignified for that.
Positive relationships are built on trust and respect.