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Why Building Exceptional Professional Relationships is Key to Leadership

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Do you know someone who is surprisingly skilled at building professional relationships? Did you ever wonder should I be doing more of this? The truth is you should be!

Likely, you probably have thought to yourself I don’t have time to be talking with people. We are all extremely busy and we usually think work is about working, not about talking to coworkers.

But it doesn’t matter what level you are in an organization, getting along with others is critical to your success. Knowledge, hard work, and intelligence are important, but real success is impossible without building great relationships. As a leader, you have to treat people with respect and kindness. This builds trust and lays the groundwork for open communication.

Leadership

© Flickr user GSK

Building relationships is important for leaders for three reasons:

  • People are more likely to go along with changes that you want to implement if you’ve had positive dealings with them. That’s because if they like you and trust you, they are going to be open to your ideas.
  • Position relationships give you more time and energy to focus on opportunities to grow your business. That might sound counterintuitive–shouldn’t spending time talking to people take away from getting things done? Instead, good relationships allow us to save time instead of later spending time overcoming problems associated with negative relationships.
  • If you have a good relationship with your managers, and with customers, suppliers, and stakeholders, those relationships will help you develop your career. This makes sense: if people know you and respect you, they are going to reach out when they have opportunities.

For many of us, building relationships isn’t easy to do. Maybe we don’t feel like natural extroverts. Or, maybe we just prefer to spend time talking with friends and family. Here are six tips for building professional relationships for leaders everywhere:

1. Be Empathetic

Put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Why does he or she react a certain way? This enables you to pick up on what’s going on in their personal or professional lives. Then, you’ll have a better idea knowing what to say to inspire and motivate others.

2. Reserve Time

Go to your calendar and schedule time to build relationships. This might seem strange. But you probably already know that if you schedule an important appointment, you’re more likely to keep it. If building a relationship with someone is important, then put it on your calendar. And if you don’t have a person in mind, reserve time on your calendar to give them a call, send them a note, or find some other way to reach out.

3. Be Self-Aware

Next up is to focus on your own emotions and situations. Think about times where interactions with others have gone well and ones that haven’t gone that well. What was your part in these situations? What did say or do? How did that affect the other person? Taking a moment to reinforce your better choices will help you do a better job next time!

4. Be Positive

All emotions are contagious. Being positive is attractive and it will help strengthen your relationship with others. Who wants to be around someone who is negative all the time?

5. Earnestness and Transparency

It’s always wise to avoid office politics and gossip. Both of these behaviors can kill relationships. If you hear someone gossiping, walk away. If you’re having a conflict with someone, talk directly to that person. There’s no room for side chatter about other people in a quality relationship. Be direct and honest, and don’t be a part of anything shady.

6. Active Listening

Finally, practice the art of active listening. In short: focus on listening more than talking. Take the time to truly hear what is being said, what isn’t being said, and reading people’s non-verbals.

Business Meeting

© Flickr user Internet Association

The most successful people know how to build relationships at all different levels of business. But be warned: it does take time, effort, and thought.

Your relationships will make the difference in your future!

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Cindy Allen-Stuckey

Cindy Allen-Stuckey

Cindy Allen-Stuckey, CEO and founder of Making Performance Matter, collaborates with organizations to convert their strategy into action. She takes global organizations to the next level by developing customized "people strategies" that bring their business strategy to life and enabling them to optimally execute it.
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