Six Types of Professional Relationships Leaders Have (pt.2)


In Leadership Beyond Reason author John Townsend said, “Life is essentially about relationships, and it is empty without relationships.” In the first part of this series we talked about inner circle members and friends. Two other professional relationships leaders have include supporters and lifters. Let’s now talk about both of those types of relationships.

3. Supporters

These are the people who support and cheer for your success. They come around you to do whatever they can so the team or organization you lead wins. Supporters are committed and dedicated to your message, vision, leadership, and goals. These are the people who always come to you asking if they can help you in anyway or those who let you know they are there if you need them. Every leader needs people who support them.

One of the ways a leader moves through the challenges of leadership, seasons of demand, and organizational ups and downs is by having strong people who support and stand beside them through it all. Everyone, not only the leader, receives the valuable benefits from those individuals who support the leader’s cause, primarily because it creates a positive working environment.

When you earn the respect and influence of your people they will support you and the extreme supporters, the ones best described above, will be ever present. Overtime, especially during a crisis or high level of demand, they will show themselves to you by being present and supportive. When you identify supporters make sure you nurture the relationship by showing your appreciation and thanking them for their hard work.

4. Lifters

Supporters and lifters are similar to each other but they have slight differences. Supporters are your main cheerleaders or source of encouragement while lifters work competently to reach goals and raise the overall level of results delivered. Lifters help you with your workload by taking on extra non-essential (the responsibilities not needing to be done by only you) tasks or roles. This allows you to focus on your most important responsibilities.

They have a standard of excellence and exceed expectations. A standard of excellence is about being competent in your role and fulfilling your work requirements on time. In The Leadership Mandate I describe exceeding expectations as, “going above and beyond what is expected or demanded of you. In a work environment that might include: requesting or taking on extra work, finding and solving department or organizational problems, volunteering to help with a project or a team member, building team unity, and bringing innovative ideas to your boss or during meetings. These suggestions are about serving those around you and going above and beyond what is expected of you.”

Lifters have a standard of excellence and always exceed the expectations set before them. There example and work ethic inspires team members to raise their own standards. This synergy creates a desirable culture and a winning work environment. The key is to first be the example you want to see in others by having a high standard of excellence and exceeding your leadership requirements and expectations.

Questions: Do you have supporters and/or lifters on your leadership team? How important are those people to you and your leadership?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • These two are ones I have found in abundance here at the church I have served for the past 10 years. That is why it has been the best place I have ever been. I am not going alone and I know someone has my back in support and in lending a hand.

    • That’s great! We all need supporters and lifters in our community. Thank you for sharing.

  • A lot is said & written about leadership. In fact, everyone is supposed to be a leader, right? Yet, without quality followers, the people you describe in this post, how can anyone be a good leader? Supporters & lifters are vital to successful leadership. In fact, there’s a tremendous ministry to be found in being a high-quality follower like you describe here.

    • Yes, everyone is able to lead and everyone influences someone. It’s all about the people we have on our team and around us. It will make or break us. Thank you for adding your wisdom here.

  • I think any kind of success is impossible without supporters, but especially lifters. Of course the best lifters are the ones that learn by being led by example! It seems if the people aren’t lifters then they’re going to drains or leeches, doesn’t ever seem to be any in between in my world. Your thoughts?

    • I agree, supporters and lifters are essential for the leader to be successful. If your the main leader who has the power to hire and fire this can be easier than if you are in middle management (Like I am) were it can be difficult to fire people who are drainers. But every leader can coach and inspire others to raise their standards.