“The toughest and most results-oriented leaders are increasingly discovering that the answer lies in building relationships.” Doug Conant, from Leadership Resolutions for 2016.
When I consider the relationships I have with those around me, I find that they are all in a different place. Some are strained or more distant than I’d like. Others need gentle nourishing and still others are exactly as they should be.
I look to myself to “be the change” in those relationships that need attention, while realizing that some of them require patience because either I don’t have the answers to what needs to be done with them or the time just isn’t right yet. Others require immediate action because the timing is perfect and I feel confident that I know what to do.
The point is that every relationship requires something different, but they all require an intention for them. The bottom line for you is that if you don’t pay attention to the relationships you need to support you and your organization, you won’t get the results you want.
Now (as the year begins) is a good time to take stock of all of your relationships – not just the ones associated with work, but also those in your personal life (because your personal relationships also impact your leadership. This may be hard to believe, but consider how you show up as a leader when someone significant in your life is suffering, or when you’re in the early throes of new love).
What are your relationships asking of you? Take some time to ponder which ones need:
Beginning: Who is silently supporting you while you’re unaware or overlooking their efforts? Make a goal to reach out to the silent ones that you may not normally notice or whose voices are drowned out in a sea of activity. Gently inquire what they need from you. You might be surprised that they need more than you thought, or that they are perfectly content with the situation as it is.
Ending: Who do you need to take an departure from? For most of us, there are individuals who drain the life from us and just don’t belong in our life. If that sounds harsh, consider the freedom you’ll feel when you put those who negatively impact you at a distance. Make a goal to only allow those in your inner circle who lift you up, are honest and trustworthy, listen well and are deserving of your own attention.
Healing: Who do you need to forgive or reconcile with? Forgiving is some of the hardest work you’ll do. Healing doesn’t happen in the moment we reach out and ask it to happen, unlike many of the things you deal with on a daily basis. It requires you to dig deep and find the source of the wound in yourself, and then have the patience to allow it to become newly healed. You must do your part, without expectations from those on the other side of the divide.
Cherishing: Who is cherished by you that you have neglected? In your busy leadership life, it’s far too easy to neglect those you hold closest in your heart, the ones you love, the ones who are there day in and day out supporting you. What goals would they want you to set for your relationship? Go ahead and ask them, and then be prepared to meet them in the place where you both need to be.
Set some goals for nourishing your relationships in the same way as you set goals for everything else. When you take action on them, you’ll find that at the end of the year, your leadership has lifted to a higher level than you imagined.