Let’s talk about leadership. No matter where you are in your career or personal life, strong leadership is important to success. The qualities that make someone an effective leader are the same traits that lead to a happy, healthy, and well-balanced life.
Countless books, videos, seminars and coaching services address this subject, but what’s the real secret to being an effective leader? Relationships.
Contrary to what you might think, being an effective leader isn’t just about tangible results like profit or status. It’s all about relationships. Whether you’re managing a team, handling your own business clients, or even just organizing family life, being a leader means building positive and purposeful relationships.
Here are four ways to build these types of relationships and therefore become a truly effective leader:
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
- Stephen R. Covey, Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Honesty and integrity are very important qualities for leadership. When you build trust, people are easy to motivate because they feel supported. It means the difference between inspiring someone and “convincing” them. People worker harder and achieve better results when they trust their leaders. Trust helps everyone feel unified towards a common goal.
To build trust with coworkers, clients, or anyone else in your life, speak plainly and openly. Make eye contact. Pause when you need to think. Be honest when you don’t know the answer to a question, and never hesitate to ask for help. The most effective leaders always embrace their “human side.” Demonstrating your own vulnerability will help others feel comfortable around you.
"Silence is a source of great strength." - Lao Zhu, Ancient Philosopher
Effective leaders are also great listeners. Being receptive to new ideas and criticism will enable you to be an effective leader in any context. You may not always agree with the feedback you receive, but by listening to others, it will show your team that you’re level-headed, approachable, and open to new ideas, which are also very important qualities in a leader.
When you show others that you’re receptive, it encourages people to share their ideas openly and honestly. This results in greater collaboration and innovation in any group setting. If you’re a boss or manager, being receptive promotes higher morale among employees. Your receptivity will increase teamwork and overall productivity.
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” - Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder & Philanthropist
To be an effective leader, it’s vital to empower others. After all, the top of the pyramid is only as strong as its base. The most successful leaders understand that helping the people around them is the most valuable “investment” they can make. Beyond leading by example, they share their knowledge and encourage their team to grow. When others thrive, it’s a win-win for you and your entire group.
What are some of the ways you can empower people as a leader? First, have the right attitude. Use positive reinforcement, incentives and constructive feedback instead of threats or other fear tactics. Be firm but fair. Identify your group’s strengths, then encourage them to use these talents and give them space to find creative solutions rather than micro-managing everything. Empower others to empower themselves.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.”
- C.S. Lewis, Author
Effective leaders are often very humble. It’s no coincidence that humility and leadership frequently go hand-in-hand. Humble leaders acknowledge the people who have assisted them on their journey and the life events that have shaped them. They practice gratitude, which enables them to be more compassionate, mindful and inspiring to others.
By being humble, strong leaders remove their ego from their endeavors. This allows them to be more open to new ideas and personal growth. Humility also promotes strong relationships in your work life and at home. When you’re willing to admit your mistakes, you can learn from them more easily. It shows others that you’re trustworthy and approachable.
The Takeaway: Relationships Are the Key to Leadership!
Remember that strong relationships are the key to being an effective leader. Build trust, be receptive, empower others and be humble. When you practice effective leadership, you’ll create amazing results within teams and strengthen the relationships within your personal life as well.