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7 Habits of a Relational Leader


July 15, 2020

By Rowan Van Dyk

7 Habits of a Relational Leader

3 Min

Being a leader is not always easy and can be very lonely. Being a Relational Leader takes a lot of courage, commitment and resilience and putting yourself out there. As the leader your shareholders expect you to grow the bottom-line and protect their investments. You’re expected to produce results, but you soon realize you cannot achieve this on your own. On top of that, you expect your team to put in the effort and hours to perform and produce and work closely and collaboratively.

The dilemma you face as a leader is that, even though it is your responsibility to produce the results, you cannot do it on your own and you need the team. Your team members rely on you for decision making, taking the right steps, and, leading them to success. However, if you do not have a solid relationship with your team, they may doubt your abilities, not respect you, or worse they will not trust you. This combination of perceptions will distinguish their desire to put in the needed effort to achieve the required results or be productive .You may be the leader, but you will need to build meaningful relationships with your team to gain their trust and command respect. Here are the top seven habits of great a Relational Leader.

  1. Not always making it about you. As a leader, you need to put your team first, and at times this can get a little uncomfortable. Be prepared to put your own agenda aside and focus on the needs of your team and show genuine concern for their well-being. They will in-turn repay you with their productivity. At times you need to take a back seat and feed off the expertise of the individual group members or the team as a whole. A Relational Leader knows how to access the skills and expertise of the team in order to obtain the best possible results.
  2. Not taking sides. In today’s workplace environment we are faced with diverse teams so you can definitely expect conflicts and clashes. It is not so much the outcome of the crisis, but how you get to the outcome. Listen to both sides equally, and keep your inputs and feedback free of emotion, and most of all do not choose sides. Even if you agree vehemently with one member, it is of the utmost portance to the survival of the team to remain completely neutral.
  3. Communicating like you care. Technology and social media have killed the art of face-to-face communication. However, if you plan on building proper relationships with your team, you will have to put down your mobile phone, leave your office and go strike up a conversation with the team members. This is going to be very awkward at first, but if you show them you are genuinely interested in what they have to say, they will slowly but surely open up to you and you will be on your way to developing that relationship.
  4. Giving praise and credit. When you’re setting goals or objectives, take little steps. Set many small achievable goals that will ensure success, but it’s important to recognise these milestones and give the encouragement and praise regularly. Acknowledge individuals for their contributions and efforts, as well as the team as a whole. Give credit where credit is due and do not take the credit for someone else’s hard work or ideas. Giving credit gains you their respect and trust. Even as the leader, if you’re the one being acknowledged for the overall output or the success of the project, ensure the credit goes to the right person. Relational Leaders lets the team have the praise when things go right, and they take the blame when things go wrong.
  5. Allowing for mistakes. Relational Leaders will allow their team to make mistakes from time to time, but they must learn from the mistakes that were made. Making a mistake should not be a tragedy, but instead should be seen as an opportunity to learn how not to do it and gain some experience. A Relational Leader will allow the mistakes and then offer assistance and guidance to not only rectify the mistake but help the team member learn from it without the fear of reprisal.
  6. Paying it forward. The main function of any great Relational Leader is to develop future leaders. Don’t be an empty chair leader, find prospective future leaders and become a mentor. You learnt through mistakes and growing your experience, why not pass that on to the next generation of leaders? By being a mentor to a future leader you are able to guide the through the murky waters f being a leader and to show them possible pitfalls they could avoid. Mentoring someone shows your commitment as Relational Leader to build relationships, share your expertise and experience and to cultivate the next generation of leaders.
  7. Not leading to be liked. Relational Leaders don’t need praise, recognition and popularity. They’re there for the team and the success of the project. Relational leaders realize that the team’s performance determines their success and they drive relationships instead of bottom-line. You have to provide the guidance and vision for the team which could include making some difficult decisions from time to time. You need to make the decisions that benefit the team and not those that make you look good. If you have built the relationships and the trusts you as their leader, then they will accept your decisions o matter how it might hurt because they will understand that it is for the better good of the team.

Therefore, Relational Leaders strive for the trust of their team which is made possible through the forging of relationships.

Relational Leaders don’t need the approval of anyone. Relational Leaders are about what they give, and how that comes across, not what they’re getting out of it.