Mike Morrison wrote The Other Side of the Card – A book about where your authentic leadership story begins. Click here to read a brief review of the book I wrote on my employee engagement blog.
He also writes an excellent informative and interesting newsletter. I just received it this week and asked Mike if I could reprint the newsletter on the Strength Based Leadership blog.
Here it is:
Much of the elusiveness of a leading through meaning approach is that by its nature it requires that we lean into the failure, pain, insecurity, and negative emotions that represent the critical learning opportunities on our leadership path. Our coaching insight for today is:
The world is not made up of things – it is made up of relationships.
We achieve results primarily through relationships. Relationships are truly the most effective pathway to the highest levels of commitment, creativity, and performance within organizations. The reason is that positive relationships have a transformational impact on the individual. They draw out the best in each of us. But here’s the bottom line for our organizations. Human capital is useless without relationships – particularly in our fast-paced, global economy. In fact, leaders can be best measured by their ability to create “social capital” – the sum total of all their relationships. It is through this network of relationships that their work is conducted. The undeniable truth is that where there are high levels of trust and mutual understanding between people, you will see meaning.
My message to leaders is actually quite simple: It’s the relationship……stupid. A little blunt? Maybe. Accurate? Absolutely. We underestimate by some huge margin the importance of relationships in our efforts to create meaning in our organizational lives. For a half-decade I have been involved in research on relationships between leaders and followers. The results have been both eye-opening and fascinating. My five-year journey can be reduced to three basic findings about leader- follower relationships that we better pay attention to:
1. Some form fast – but most don’t.
2. Followers overemphasize their importance.
3. Leaders underestimate their significance.
Some relationships form fast – most don’t. Some relationships form almost automatically but for the most part, relationship building activities are not easy to do (due to differences in style, values, etc.). A root issue is that we fail to fully understand the art of “relating” that is core to the science of relationship building. That’s a mistake. The essence of relating begins with the heightened awareness of others and is fueled by trust-building interactions – such as self-disclosures. As leaders, we need to be relentless relationship builders and be 100 times more deliberate about the “relating” to people.
Followers overemphasize the importance of relationships. It’s a key source of meaning in their lives. Traditionally, the balance of power rests with the boss. It often goes way beyond the obvious power differences – where the leader controls resources, information, and access to meaningful work. Followers look to the leader for validation of their personal worth to the organization. And that can’t come from an e-mail. It takes face time and a stable relationship for that to occur. Studies consistently point to the lost productivity attributed to “worrying about the relationship”.
Leaders underestimate the significance of relationships. It is clear that a great deal of interaction is required to explain, reassure, and facilitate actual elements of a follower’s performance. While facilitative-type behaviors are often prescribed as effective strategies for leaders in motivating their followers, the reality is that the broad challenges of the leader’s role and the lack of skill and insight into relationship building serve as formidable barriers. In the heat of the battle, “relating” and the creation of meaning gets lost to the perceived needs to command, control, and communicate.
Simply stated, our organization leaders need a better understanding of the dynamics of relationship formation and the determination and patience to put them into play.
You can sign up for Mike’s newsletter at theothersideofthecard.com. There is a hot link for Amazon for ordering the book at the site as well. Most importantly, you can reach Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org to keep the dialogue going.