Download our latest whitepaper Developing Emotional Capital: The advanced evolution of emotional intelligence for leaders

Leadership is not just about giving orders and achieving results; it’s about building relationships with your team, inspiring and motivating them to reach their full potential. Building strong relationships with your team members is the foundation of effective leadership. In this article, we will discuss why leadership is about relationships and why it is essential in a working environment.

Why Great Leaders Focus on Building Trusting Relationships

As John C. Maxwell, an American author, speaker, and pastor, once said, “Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It’s about one life influencing another.” These words beautifully describe the relationship between a leader and their team members. A leader’s success is measured by the positive influence they have on their team members. A good leader understands the importance of relationship-building and spends time getting to know each team member individually.

One of the essential aspects of relationship-building is trust. Without trust, it is almost impossible to build a strong relationship between a leader and his team members. As Stephen Covey, an American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker, said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” A leader who builds trust with their team members can expect to have a productive team that is willing to work hard and achieve the goals set by the leader.

Another important aspect of relationship-building is communication. A leader who communicates effectively with their team members can expect to have a team that is well-informed and understands the goals and expectations set by the leader. As Maya Angelou, an American award-winning author, poet, civil rights activist, and playwright, once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” A leader who communicates effectively with their team members can make them feel valued and motivated to work towards the success of the team.

Finally, empathy is another essential aspect of relationship-building. A leader who exhibits empathy towards their team members can expect to have a team that is loyal and committed to the success of the team. As Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, said, “Leadership is not domination, but the art of persuading people to work towards a common goal.” A leader who exhibits empathy towards their team members can persuade them to work towards the common goal and achieve success.

In conclusion, leadership is about relationships. Trust, communication, and empathy are the building blocks of strong relationships that result in effective leadership. As Simon Sinek, a British-American author and motivational speaker, said, “Great leaders are willing to sacrifice their own personal interests for the good of the team.” Leaders who understand the importance of relationship-building can expect to have a team that is willing to work together, overcome challenges, and achieve the goals set by the leader.

Relationships are therefore crucial. They are not a purely optional factor that can be ignored. They are a crucial enabler of your capacity to recruit, retain, and maximise the potential of your workforce. Leadership is a connection, and good leaders understand that toxic or negative relationships with their teams will have a negative impact on team performance.

In the second edition of 5 Conversations – How to transform trust, engagement and performance at work, we explore the five key conversations every leader should be having with their teams to make their relationships more effective.

What are the 5 Conversations?

The Oxford Group has identified five key conversations you can have that transform trust and develop more effective workplace relationships which we explore in both the programme and the book.

They are:

  1. Establishing a trusting relationship – a conversation with a team member to share a deep, mutual understanding of your respective drivers, preferences, motivators and demotivators for high performance at work, and to understand what makes each other tick
  2. Agreeing mutual expectations – a conversation about not only what you are both trying to achieve at work, but also why, and the expectations you can have to support each other in achieving these outcomes
  3. Showing genuine appreciation – a conversation to help a team member focus on where they are being successful, to jointly understand the reasons for their success, to say how much you appreciate their contribution and find further ways in which they can deploy their skills and talents to benefit both themselves and the organisation
  4. Challenging unhelpful behaviour – a conversation to agree a new and more effective set of behaviours where what a team member or colleague is saying or doing is getting in the way of team performance
  5. Building for the future – a conversation to explore the future career aspirations of a team member and give you the best possible chance of creating conditions that will enable them to build that future career within your organisation rather than elsewhere

Want to find out more about 5 Conversations?

The second edition of our Amazon best seller 5 Conversations – How to transform trust, engagement and performance at work has just been published. New features include customer success stories, the impact of psychological safety, the link with emotional intelligence, latest neuroscience research and engagement data and how to apply 5 Conversations to customers.