Leadership is, first and foremost, a Relationship.
Have you ever stopped to think about the many ways you might describe who you are and what you do for a living? I challenge you to set aside the next five (5) minutes to do just that and describe who you are and what you do.
Grab a blank piece of paper and pen and jot down one-word answers to the question. In one-word responses, describe who you are and what you do.
Are you a sibling, someone’s child, a supervisor, a co-worker, a teacher, etc.?
Once you have completed the five minutes, look back over each word and decide if they describe a relationship type or not.
In most cases, you will discover that virtually every way you describe yourself and others represents some form of relationship. We can not escape the fact that we are relational beings. We might conclude that everything is about relationships.
If we conclude that relationship is at the heart of all we are, all we do, and what we are becoming, then shouldn’t we make relationships our chief subject of study?
Ask yourself, “If I were better at making, keeping, and growing healthy relationships, how would my life and work change? The answer might surprise you.
Relationships make the entire world go around. We are relationship-driven people, communities, and cultures. Everything thrives or dies based upon its relationship to everything else; if you are a leader in business, a church, community organization, or club, then understand that leadership is first and foremost a Relationship.
How well the organization you lead performs is tied directly to your relationship with the people you lead. The real challenge of a relationship is that it is never one-sided. As the old saying goes, “It takes two to tango.” The current struggle many businesses face today with the so-called “Great Resignation” is a symptom of the failure of leaders to understand that leadership is a relationship.
In the end, we have discovered that everyone is a volunteer. Leaders must learn and continually reinforce the truth that no one works for you, but they work with you. You may direct their work and activities, but they ultimately control where they invest their time and talent to create revenue and profit for their lives.
The truth is; that each person works for him or herself. Your business or organization is just the vehicle they use to generate their profit. The “employees” are “paid volunteers” working for the wage value you place on the task they perform. As leaders, we must realize that your team places value on things that may lead them away from the relationship with you and your company.
Leadership is a relationship that requires care and attention to strengthen and make it lasting. There is an old bit of wisdom about marriage that may apply here,
The young newlywed husband saw an older gentleman he knew as a child eating alone in a restaurant. He walked up to his table and greeted his older friend. The older man looked up from his plate and smiled as he returned the greeting and congratulated his young acquaintance on his recent marriage.
The young man decided to ask for a bit of relationship advice from his old friend, who had long since divorced, “Sir,” he asked, “when is the best time to tell my wife that I love her?” The older man looked sternly at the young husband and, without changing his expression, said, “Before someone else does!”
As leaders, we must commit to showing our teams that we value them before someone else does. We must prize the person over the position because they are worth more than the position pays. We can only understand this when we accept that we have entered a two-way relationship.
We must finally accept that leadership is, first and foremost, a relationship.