So much of what we do at work has to be done by, with, or through other people. It’s a fact of life. Relationships can be temporary, such as with an ad hoc team, intermittent, as with cross-functional project teams, and daily, as with either dotted or direct line reporting. Those relationships can be anything from antagonistic, to cordial, to a lot of fun, to close. Human beings are social creatures. We like to “hang out” with people we like! We tend to distance ourselves from people we perceive to be weird or different. Take my word for it, there are a lot of weird people out there!
What we don’t think about when we’re reacting to one of these “weirdos”, is the negative impact it could have on our future. As leaders, many of us go through a maturation process. In the initial stages, the faults of others take precedence, and judgmentalism wins over tolerance. As you mature as a leader, you realize that the challenge is to be able to create relationships with anyone. Even with the “weirdos”! If you are an ineffective leader you leave dead bodies in your wake. This creates people with a vendetta: to get you!
What research has shown, is that leaders who create authentic relationships with people across the organization tend to keep their jobs longer. They build stronger cultures and create higher employee satisfaction. For many leaders who have been promoted for their technical ability, developing relationships seems like hard, if not impossible, work. The question to ask yourself as a leader: What is your legacy? Did you build the best widget last year, but had high employee turnover? Or, did you build the best organization that turns out great widgets year upon year? You choose!
Written by Sherri Malouf
President of Situation Management Systems, Inc.