Your Success as a Leader Will Be Determined by the Depth of Your Relationships

In last week’s blog, we challenged you to think more deeply about how you treat your employees. Are you fair and equal to all, or do favor and cater to some more so than others?

This week, we want to build on the importance of creating deeper connections with others. This is not a new topic for us, and we have written about it often because it is critical to your success as a leader.

In my executive and private coaching practice, I work with an average 25-30 leaders per month, and it is an absolute honor to be able to build more meaningful relationships with these amazing professionals. I am blessed to have the privilege of creating a safe space for others to grow and develop but it isn’t just work for me. I genuinely like people; I get energy from human connection, which is part of the reason why I chose to start my own leadership development practice over 10 years ago.

One of the biggest challenges leaders face relates to the softer side of leadership. What I mean by the softer side are all the soft skills we leverage to help us move beyond the persona or masks people wear. It is about the ability to create authentic, deeper, and more meaningful relationships with others, and this stretches way beyond your immediate team.  

We strongly believe that it is the softer side of leadership that is the differentiating factor between those who are exceptional leaders vs. average ones. The hard skills matter too, but what differentiates high performing leaders from average ones are soft skills such as emotional intelligence (EQ), self-awareness, compassion, and empathy.  

Your organization is not just an office suite, a building, or a collage of people working remotely, it is a collection of people intertwined in relationships with one another. By focusing on improving the relationships you have with those around you both internally and externally, you will have a better chance of achieving your collective goals and objectives.

Really think about it. It starts with knowing those you work with as people, not what they do for the organization but who they are as human beings. Imagine if you didn’t trust your immediate manager, employees, or colleagues. How productive and successful are you going to be at moving yourself and your team forward?  

Here are three simple tips to assist you in developing authentic, more meaningful relationships with others.  We want to reinforce these tips by looking at them through the lens of your direct reports, but it’s important to note that these apply to all your professional relationships.

#1 - Get to Know People as People

What does life look like for them outside of work? Do they have a family? Children? What are they passionate about? What hobbies and interests do they have outside of the work environment? 

You simply cannot lead and inspire a person you’re not connected with. We all have a story, and relationships are based on how well we work to understand each other’s stories.

As a leader, you need to know enough to have a stronger sense of what their responsibilities and obligations look like in their personal life. Often when an individual isn’t performing, it has nothing to do with the job and everything to do with what is happening in their personal life.

#2 – Model the Right Behaviors

As leaders, part of creating that safe space is about letting others into your world. Sharing more about yourself will start fostering trust in relationships as they will feel safer to share more about themselves.  

You need to establish what the boundaries look like for you as it relates to how much and what you share. But if you aren’t willing to share anything about yourself, then why would they feel comfortable sharing insights about themselves with you?

Relationships are a two-way street. We must be willing to give to receive.

#3 – Encourage Teamwork, Collaboration & Be There for Support 

As people move through their careers, and we engage in new projects with different people across the organization, encourage people to get to know one another more personally by leveraging fun icebreaker activities and taking the time to have deeper introductory conversations.  

When we have relationships at work, our performance is improved, and without meaningful relationships at work, we miss out on two types of important support: 

  • Structural support – the ability to ask someone to cover for you when you are in a bind
  • Emotional support – having someone to talk with during stressful times

Sometimes people will look to you as their leader for support, and they most likely will have a few trusted friends and colleagues in the work environment that they depend on, too.

What relationships mean to your bottom line?

Employees are more likely to feel a stronger sense of loyalty to their company and perceive more psychological value in their daily work when we have deeper connections in our work environment.

The stronger the connections people have at work; the more engagement and bottom-line results are positively impacted.

Did you know that the relationship with your leader is the second most-important contributor to employee engagement (after compensation)? It is also the number one reason why most people choose to leave their role and has been for many years.

Would you like to dig a little deeper on why developing deeper connections is important to your leadership? I encourage you to reach out to me. I am here to help support your success. You can email me at or call me at 1.855.871.3374.

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