What the Best Leaders Know about Relationships


Relationships are inseparable from leadership. The best leaders respect, value, and are grateful for each team member. Whether, they are the star players or not. They understand each person on the team has a direct impact on the overall goals which position them to achieve success. In Laws of Lifetime Growth, the authors wrote:

Only a small percentage of people are continually successful over the long run. These outstanding few recognize that every success comes through the assistance of many other people and they are continually grateful for this support. Conversely, many people whose success stops at some point are in that position because they have cut themselves off from everyone who has helped them. They view themselves as the sole source of their achievements. As they become more self-centered and isolated, they lose their creativity and ability to succeed.

When it comes to relationships the best leaders:

Take the time and energy to maintain their relationships-

Strong relationships don’t just happen. They require ongoing commitment, dedication, and work. The best leaders maintain their relationships, making sure they are strong. In The Leadership Mandate I wrote, “Your ability to connect, work alongside, and relate with other people is a key component to your leadership potential.” This happens when you value and are deliberate about maintaining a strong relationship with team members.

Take time to regularly have one-on-one meetings (Especially with those who are performing exceptionally well) as well as having group activities with a group or your entire team. Intentionally spend time with and around your people by walking slowly through the office, gathering where they gather, and having an open door policy.

Show they value each person on the team-

Knowing and showing you value a person are completely different. You can know something but no one will know or see it unless you show it to them. Showing you value your people is an outward expression of your inward gratitude. Between the different roles and tasks of leadership a leader can be under constant pressure to perform. Busyness is one of the main reasons why showing your people you value them is a challenge. Making regular conscious decisions to show your team you value them can make all the difference. Do this by:

  • Speaking kind, encouraging, and uplifting words to them, those which show your team their contribution matters.
  • Spending time with team members with the purpose of getting to know and understand them.
  • And/or being a support to your team by offering your assistants when they need help.

These decisions will help your team know you care and value them.

Regularly reward and recognize results-

One of the responsibilities of leading is to achieve results through the efforts of others. The best leaders understand success happens through a team effort and not by any one individual. When the team achieves a win or success the leader needs to be willing to take the spotlight off themselves and shine it on the team. This can be challenging because the public and/or their superior can place the spotlight on the leader; giving them the credit, recognition, and rewards. When this happens a leader must shift the focus onto their team by publicly and privately praising and giving credit to the team. To provide rewards for the hard work they put in while performing their roles or the tasks which lead to the win or success when possible.

Questions: Can you add to the list, what else do the best leaders do when it comes to relationships? What are you doing to build and maintain your relationships?

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26 thoughts on “What the Best Leaders Know about Relationships

  1. I’m much more of a relationship-type person anyway Dan. I prefer to keep a relationship alive then to stick to my guns at times. I will also pursue a friendship if I deem it one I’d like to have or maintain.

  2. Within this great advice you’ve given, having a general/basic understanding of personality types and introversion/extroversion preference can be very helpful. Learn how people best connect based on their personalities. This has proven very helpful to me over the years.

  3. Dan, what is a leader if no one is following? He’s just a dude going for a walk. Relationships are built on confidence, decision making, integrity and personality. People are naturally drawn to those traits. I’ve seen people try to lead without any attempt to build relationships and you know what they are called? Bullies

  4. Dan I like your statement. “Intentionally spend time with and around your people by walking slowly through the office…” This is something I try to do both in my ministry and my day job. I call it “work the room” I try and make sure I can connect with as many as people as possible. I am very task oriented so it is easy to focus on the job and forget the people. I am learning to “walk slowly” At work I don’t have any direct reports but I still take the time to connect with my peers and the key people I work with in other departments. I find it makes for a more fruitful and happy work place.

  5. Hi Dan – excellent thoughts as always. We can also learn a lot from those we lead. I think humility and keeping an open mind are necessary in forming strong relationships. We don’t know it all and learning and listening to others helps us form even stronger bonds and relationships with people.

    Wishing you a great year of learning, leading and growing in 2015.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post (sorry for the delayed reply)! Great additional thoughts, being humble will leading and in our relationships is crucial. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here.

  6. “…walking slowly through the office…”
    Far too often we are in a hurry. We don’t really see people or hear them.
    We need to intentionally be slow, intentionally listen and see- then we can speak into their lives.

  7. I think this is just relationships between your team – I think of networking and holding relationships with all sorts of people all around. Cultivating those relationships is a crucial thing as well.

  8. Dan, something simple we can all do is to take someone to lunch, pay for the meal, and thank him/her for their efforts. It doesn’t take a ton of effort, but it means a great deal to the other person – to know he/she is valued.