I’ll never forget her. She was such an inspiring leader. My former boss, beth, made it a priority to spend time with each of her team members to listen to them individually. She was interested in not only reaching the goals of the organization but was also dedicated to making sure that our gifts and talents were used and integrated into the work as much as possible.
One of the things that beth created was a learning environment for the team. Despite the fact that we were distributed across the country, she was determined to create opportunities for reflection, discovery, and team building. Beth was an example of the power of relational leadership. In order to be effective, leaders must recognize the power of relationships.
“If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.” —chinese proverb
How to learn leadership skills?
1. Understand relationships
To be a great leader, one must listen to both the spoken as well as unspoken cues that are part of an organization. Emerging research on followership also demonstrates that great leaders offer guidance and mentorship, inspiring their teams to be great.
2. Understand the idea of privilege
Leaders know that title, circles of influence, and/or knowledge can create power dynamics within a team. Therefore, recognizing your privilege is essential. One’s perspective is impacted by race, ethnicity, gender, education level, social status, and other occupied categories. As we all make meaning of situations we encounter based on our perspectives, it is important to be aware of this and be willing to embrace differences in others.
3. Identify your narrative
The narrative of a leader impacts those who follow them. Therefore, if we do not pay attention to the negative part of our stories, it can be easy to recreate them as is discussed in amanda sinclair’s book; leadership for the disillusioned: moving beyond myths and heroes to leading that liberates. In her book, amanda addresses the lives of various leaders from several large corporations who suffered terrible childhoods. As a result of their poor experiences, these individuals made faulty decisions and ultimately impacted their organizations and the livelihood of their staff the same way.
If we do not examine our past, we miss an opportunity for growth and can negatively affect those around us; particularly those we have an influence over.
4. Cast a vision that captivates others to create action
Relational leaders are also aware that everyone has a different way of understanding information, so they take the time to ensure that each team member not only comprehends the information but provides feedback on it as well.
What is relational leadership?
Relational leadership recognizes two dynamics; the role of individuals and their relationships, understanding different perspectives in creating meaning in relationships, and the historical/social constructs that exist. As a relational leader, there is an ongoing process of creating and relating to others, otherwise thought to be a collaborative social process.
As it is important to reach team, department, and organizational goals, more engagement means better outcomes. Relational leaders create opportunities for reflection and learning to enhance their leadership toolkit and succeed in the outlined ways.
Relational leadership encompasses an opportunity for leaders and their teams to make meaning of their interactions by seeing leadership as more than a list of technical dos and don’ts. However, this is an adaptive process that requires a change in thinking based on self-awareness and knowledge gained from interactions with others.
Relational leadership is also very inclusive as it requires being adaptive. One must always be reworked based on the information gained from the relationship with their team because relational leaders understand the value of stories and gaining information from them that not only reaches desired goals but creates a mutually beneficial relationship as a result.
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I am thankful for leaders such as beth who poured into me and my own skills, allowing me to learn leadership. In a world that is becoming increasingly challenging, developing strong relationships is critical in making the changes that we would like to see in our workplaces and communities. Therefore, in order to build these strong teams that genuinely make an impact, we must begin to look at how we are connecting to others and observe the way we value others. We reach our goals as an organization when we are committed to building relational leadership because it ultimately increases individual and collective well-being and the productivity of our companies.
Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew Is An Author, Speaker, Consultant, And Adjunct Professor At Tulane University. Her Podcast, The Tapestry, Explores The Narrative Identities Of Women. To Learn More About Dr. Froswa, Visit Www.Drfroswa.Com