Whether supervising people or projects, leadership is not only time consuming but can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Navigating difficult situations, working with strong personalities or balancing life and work, being a leader isn’t just a 9-5 job. It requires well-honed skills (sometimes new ones), discernment, decisiveness and the ability to act under pressure.
When you get promoted from a “doer” to a “leader”, one of the hallmarks of that transition is the need to influence others, starting with the team you supervise. As you go higher in the organization, you must also learn to influence people beyond your team: your colleagues, your boss, other senior executives, even external stakeholders like suppliers, customers and law-makers. Your effectiveness is no longer simply the output of your own work… you need others to buy-in if you’re going to succeed. Whether supervising others, working to get buy-in on a project or championing a change, you now need to influence others towards a desired outcome. And the higher you want to go, the more critical influencing skill becomes.
There has been a lot of research on leadership over the years. Transformational leadership is often cited as the most effective style and focuses on motivating and inspiring others towards positive changes. Research indicated that transformational leadership resulted in higher performance and more improved group satisfaction and wellbeing than other leadership styles.
What can we learn from transformational leadership? Relationships matter.
Relational leadership includes the following components:
- process oriented
By developing positive relationships, you invest in those around you. That support can make all the difference in a project failing or succeeding. Small steps go a long way in building relationships, empowering your team and helping others feel a part of the process.
- Ask for input – allow time for discussion at a meeting to gather feedback and ideas.
- Delegate! Empower others to research some of the ideas presented and implement portions of the project.
- Define the goal – align the project with purpose. Explain why the organization is making this project or initiative a priority. When others understand the why, they are most likely to buy in. For more information on why “starting with why” works, check out Simon Sinek’s renowned TED talk at startwithwhy.com.
- Be ethical – research shows that ethics matter. When people feel that their values are in alignment with their work, they are more invested in the process and the outcome.
- Define the process – explaining the process with a focus on the “how” and “why” helps others feel informed.
Working with a coach can help you strategize ways develop positive relationships and navigate the challenges of leadership. Check out our executive coaching services and sign up for a free consultation here.
(Komives, S, Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. (1998). Exploring Leadership for College Students What Want to Make A Difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (68-72).