“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” - Theodore Roosevelt
I love this quote from Theodore Roosevelt as I truly believe the greatest trait of a leader is his ability to relate with people and truly empathize with who they are and what they are going through. John Maxwell, in his book “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of Leader” includes relationships as one of those traits. He says, “People truly do want to go along with people they can get along with.”
He says there are 3 ways to cultivate good relationships as a leader:
-Understand People - truly understand how people think and feel, what are underlying factors that relate to all humans (wanting to feel special, success, hope, direction, and encouraged), and how to relate to their unique needs
-Love People - truly empathize with people and find the best in them
-Help People - people respect a leader who keeps their interests in mind
To me relationships mean building character, understanding others, truly getting into their heart and mind which allows you to empathize with them and truly learn how to give. Giving is the essence of it all. When other people feel you are genuinely concerned about them and care about them then they will go to the end of the earth for you.
As a leader do you invest in your people? How can you understand them, love them, or help them more? How can you make your relationships stronger?
Abraham Zaleznik in an article from the Harvard Business Review in the early 90‘s describes the difference between a manager and a leader in many ways. He describes the characteristics of a manager as they:
-Like to maintain existing systems, relationships, and processes
-Tend to mediate, negotiate, and balance opposing viewpoints
-Like to work with others, but keep a low level of emotional involvement
-Like structure and are survival oriented when it comes to taking risk
The characteristics of a leader from Zaleznik’s point of view are:
-Adopt a personal and active attitude towards goals by evoking images, moods and expectations of the direction a business could take
-Are risk takers and idea generators
-Relate in more intuitive and empathetic ways - get involved in thinking through how things affect people
-Are described with adjectives rich in emotional content
-They develop through personal mastery, which impels an individual to struggle for psychological and social change
-Are more like artists, scientists, and other creative thinkers than like managers
These descriptors are fascinating to me as it relates that managers are great at keeping the status quo - making current systems, processes, and structures as efficient, effective, and productive as possible. Leaders on the other hand have gone through struggles, have come into their own, and are willing to take the risks and push the envelope in a way that is visionary, intuitive, and innovative. They also develop intense relationships with others that can be volatile, which in some ways allows them to be more empathetic.
In my view leaders have a lot of personal strength first because they often go through struggle to become a “twice born” as Zaleznik calls it and therefore have the internal fortitude to push the envelope as they become a leader not only in their own lives, but for others.
With these descriptions are you more of a manager or a leader? What traits most define you when dealing with others or in your work life? If you aspire to be a leader how can you integrate more of the leadership qualities into your life?
Building trust is a key skill set for any good leader. It is what leads to strong relationships. It is what allows for creativity and innovation. It inspires others to be better than what they already are.
Trust in an organization is a key factor for growth, innovation, and creativity because when people in an organization trust their leaders they feel like they can take risks and know that their leaders will have their back. They feel like they can make mistakes and still have the encouragement of their leaders to try better next time. And they feel like they want to do better for their leaders because they know that they are going to be held accountable and rewarded for good work.
So what does it take for a leader to build trust within their organization?
Invest in building relationships - Relationships are the key to any thriving business whether it is building relationships with clients or building a team around you. It takes truly listening to what makes other people tick, what motivates them, and what inspires them. By truly listening, learning about and beginning to understand other people a leader can build trust with the people the people around them.
Hold Yourself and Others Accountable - Holding yourself accountable to what you say you are going to do and following through on your promises are two key components to building trust with others. It shows your character and integrity and that you value other people’s time and investment with you at your company. It shows them that they can depend on your word and that you are holding them to their word. Accountability is an integral part of building trust.
Look out for your people’s best interest - Encouraging their strengths, having their backs when outside influences could present some risks, knowing how to balance their weaknesses, and truly helping them rise to their potential builds trust. By truly looking out for others and giving to them as part of your team you will receive their dedication and loyalty in ways that you would not otherwise be able to do.
Create Transparency - Being open and honest with your employees and organization about where you are headed, what is currently going on, and any issues that are arising allows the employees to feel part of the process and want to give more to the organization. It is a way for people to feel included, in the know, and understand where the leader is coming from and going.
Are you implementing these strategies to build trust in your organization? Which ones could you begin to implement if you are not already?
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.