Today all work involves engaging and collaborating with others. If you lead any size team and relationships are a problem for you, your plans will most definitely derail. Be attentive and ensure that your relationships are built on solid foundations and that you continually nurture them over time.
Build Your Relationship Currency with Three Building Blocks:
• Establish Credibility
• Be an Authentic Messenger
• Demonstrate Gravitas
Establish Credibility: Relationships in business are often first established in forums where technical topics are discussed. Asking insightful questions, listening attentively to what others have to say, validating someone else’s viewpoint with your own experiences, and sharing useful information will start to establish your credibility. These behaviors also signal your sincerity to build mutually beneficial relationships versus engaging in superficial conversations with either no agenda or in which your own personal agenda is emphasized.
Making a positive first impression through interactive engagement is an entry point that can lead to a shared interest in investing more time in building deeper relationships. Building personal credibility is an ongoing process that is facilitated by your sincere, consistent, and service-oriented behaviors to share your knowledge and expertise.
Be an Authentic Messenger: Authenticity requires being real in expressing who you are to others. To gain followers, you must be authentic, because people want to genuinely connect with, trust, and believe in their leaders.
Being our authentic selves naturally serves as a magnet to attract others into relationships with us. Being an authentic messenger means that you honestly understand how you feel about a given topic and communicate your perspective in a way that conveys both your intellectual and emotional points of view on it. When you are an authentic messenger, you are able to build deeper relationships because you are connected to yourself and therefore transmit an emotional connection to others. Authentic connections establish intimacy beyond transactional information sharing; they build trust and confidence.
Demonstrate Gravitas: Having established both credibility and authenticity creates the conditions for you to now demonstrate that you are a leader with gravitas. While many find it difficult to describe, people look up and actively turn attention to the individual who has this desirable quality. Gravitas is similar to charisma in that it captivates us, but it is less about how you physically show up and attract attention and more about how you compel others to lean in and listen with extreme interest to what you have to say because it is expected to be insightful and is delivered with meaningful wisdom. Being recognized as a leader with gravitas is a highly regarded distinction. These leaders build powerfully intimate relationships.
If you struggle with relationships, try to take a realistic look at why. Uncovering the essence of this challenge can make a big difference in how you address your personal learning and development process. For example, being introverted may limit the number of relationships you build because your preference is for fewer, more intimate, connections. For other individuals, being disconnected from their own feelings may make them insensitive to the feelings of others, inhibiting their ability to empathize and therefore create meaningful connections. Still others may fear not being accepted or, worse, rejected, which may make them reluctant to proactively engage in the relationship-building process.
Being self-absorbed, needing to be the smartest person in the room, or being so focused on tasks that the people you are working with don’t even cross your mind are additional reasons why relationships may elude you. Find the root cause and challenge yourself to consciously address it with a coach or mentor. Seek feedback on how to change your approach so that you gain more comfort and achieve greater success with this critical leadership currency. If relationship building simply does not seem important to you, you may have a choice to make with respect to your leadership aspirations. As you progress in your professional career, your technical skills will start to matter less and your interpersonal skills will matter more. If you aspire to team or organizational leadership roles, relationship building is mandatory. If you can’t or won’t address this vital area, you simply will not advance in your career.