What’s on Our Minds: Leadership is a Relationship

June 25, 2021

How we interact with people that we lead—and how we build and maintain those relationships—has a direct effect on followers’ well-being. As individuals, our moods, our energy, our time, and even our interest in others can fluctuate day-to-day. A poor night’s sleep, a fight at home, a missed workout, or one too many drinks the night before can have powerful spillover effects….and can take a toll on how we show up for other people at work.

 

Why It Matters

 

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the research strongly supports what goes wrong is more impactful than what goes right. This is also true of our personal relationships. When we lash out at others, send a cold-toned email, check-out of checking-in on people, etc…there are consequences.

As leaders, at times we are inevitably unaware of how our behaviors are impacting our followers—and it’s not lost on them.  We may not like hearing it, but our words and actions may be directly dampening moods, shutting others down, disheartening spirits. Over time, this can destroy a followers’ desire to interact with us, let alone follow our lead. And for every bad interaction, it takes five good ones to make up for it.  This means that, even if our leadership is empathetic and engaged on most days, it can be overshadowed by bad days.

 

Something to Think About

 

No one is perfect, which is why self-reflection and managing our shortcomings is critical if we want to maximize our leadership impact and potential.  If we sense tension in a relationship, we should examine if our behavior could be the root cause. An easier said than done practice is to regularly seek input and feedback from our team—and the people who lead us.  All relationships, in our professional and personal lives, are a two-way street.  And there is no finish line to building relationships…which means that to reach our full potential, we must remain consistently vigilant about how we’re interacting with and treating others.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do what needs to be done because they want to do it.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower