Relationships Rule

Of the four Emotional Intelligence (EI) competencies, retaining, growing and managing relationships is one of the more challenging to master.  

For one, it requires an investment of time and energy, sometimes with no immediate “pay-off.”  It invites vulnerability, which, let’s face it, is not always comfortable.  It also depends on the other three EI skills (Self-Awareness, Self-Management and Social Awareness) to manage relationships well. In other words, those with little self-awareness are unlikely to thrive in the relationship department. 

The benefits of mastering the art of high-quality relationships are several and include: 

  • Personal fulfillment
  • A resourceful and engaged network
  • Trusted colleagues and an enhanced sense of team and partnership
  • Increased influence
  • Less conflict and hastened resolution when it occurs

Indeed, building relationships takes time and energy.  When done intentionally, however, and integrated into your day-to-day leadership toolkit, it’s not such a heavy lift.  

As a starting point, begin by taking stock of your current relationships and network. While this is not a quantity assessment; you want to have a bevy of relationships across the various aspects of your professional life. This might include people you count on for career advice, emotional support, brainstorming ideas, access to stakeholders, people-related matters, etc.

From there:

    • Commit time to reach out and get to know people personally – What drives them?  What scares them?  What do they want to develop?  How can you help each other?
    • Brush up on your active listening skills.  Resist jumping in with your opinion or answers to a question.  Seek to truly understand and validate what you’ve heard.
    • Assess your approachability.  Are you present during a conversation or multi-tasking?  Is your door open or closed?
    • Think about and proactively offer ways you can be of service, then be sure to deliver.
    • Flex your communication style to enhance connection.  If you tend to be more of an extrovert and one who processes out loud, exercise sensitivity to an Introvert’s preference for time to prepare. 
    • Invite feedback and be open to what you learn. This also contributes greatly to your approachability.
    • Continue to polish the other three EI skills.

In this ever-increasing interconnected world, managing relationships is a key leadership differentiator and tenet for success.   

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