A leader with high relationship management ability is superb at handling difficult conversations. People naturally bring their issues to her because they are confident she has their best interests in mind and can remain calm and objective even when the stakes large, emotions are high and opinions differ. She’s great at making people feel respected and seeing the big picture while still being mindful of the small details that are important to people. Want one? Most do.
The problem is one of supply and demand: their just aren’t enough of them.
Why relationship management is important
Relationship management is the secret formula for leading yourself and others well because the carrot and stick approach just doesn’t work anymore (if it ever truly did).
As Simon Sinek points, there are only two basic ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or inspire it. Manipulation may get you short-term results, but the ante always has to be upped and it never leads to loyalty.
We live in a world starved for leaders who can empower lasting, positive change and organizations that require it. Unfortunately, there seems to be a short supply. One study found that only 6% of leaders successfully influence the behavior of those they lead. In addition, over 90% of dysfunctional, undermining behavior was recalcitrant to change and persisted for over a year, with 30% lasting over 10yrs! So how can we more of what is needed and the leaders who can deliver it? Specifically, how can you be a leader who has high relationship management ability?
How to grow my Relationship Management Ability
First, make sure you have the fundamentals down. Specifically, the first three S+EI ability domains and related competencies from which relationship management flows. This give you as a leader your clear sense of being and purpose….your powerful Why that will allow you to resonate with others.
- Focus on behavior.
- Connect to values.
- Invest in skills.
- Leverage peer pressure.
- Change the environment.
Why Relationship Management is the secret
I believe Maxwell’s Law of Buy-in is the key here: people first buy in to the leader before they buy-into their cause. This means the best leaders must first win hearts before they win minds. Once done, a leader skilled in relationship management can inspires and move people with a compelling vision and get them excited about a common mission. Relationship management ability is a leader’s secret sauce to getting those he leads to align with his vision, his agenda, and ultimately adopt his vision as their own.
Having buy-in and alignment is just the beginning. After all, leadership is a contact sport and “stuff” is going to happen. A leader high in relationship management skills has the unique ability go from proactively and constructively addressing conflict and contentious issues with individuals and groups to having casual but impactful conversations. They can recognize “good enough” and when to “switch and link”. The result? People and things stay on track instead of exploding when stress is high, opinions and agendas differ and a lot of strong egos are in the mix. They are able to lead themselves and others well and maximize the probability of long-term success.
Are you empowering lasting, positive change in the people and/or organizations you lead the way you want? What do you currently need more or less of in order to lead yourself and others well?
Think about it, then take the action you need to become and do what you want.