Be a Relational and Empowering Leader
by John S Picarello
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Former President Ronald Reagan had a remarkable ability to relate to people. He liked people and understood them, because he understood himself. Like so many great relational leaders, he was likable, disarming, and made people feel comfortable when they were with him. His level of self-awareness enabled him to empathize with the feelings of others. It’s been said that he made you feel as if he knew you.
Good working, relationships are the safest ground for leaders to build upon.
Ronald Reagan understood that for leadership to be effective it must be others oriented. Leaders cannot lead well without relating well. John C Maxwell rightly stated that “one is too small a number to achieve greatness. You cannot do anything of real value alone.” Good relationships are empowering. This is true whether you’re the President of the United States or the owner of a small local business.
Successful leadership, the fulfillment of any vision, and the accomplishment of any team effort, will rest upon the strength of relationships. I’m not saying that nothing can be accomplished without relational leaders. I’m saying that people generally work best in empowering environments. “Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery.” – Warren Bennis
People are inclined to trust Leaders they can relate to
People may be drawn to leaders who have a compelling vision, but they will follow those who they can trust. People tend to be more secure, perform better, and are more willing to give freely of themselves, when they know where they stand with their leaders. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It’s true, People will follow those they really feel they can trust.
Develop Good People Skills
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie
Although I’ve been a public speaker for more than thirty-five years, I’ve been an introvert since childhood. I’ve always been comfortable speaking in front of a crowd regardless of the numbers present. Yet, I struggled with simple two-way conversations. People used to think I was anti-social, when in fact I was very insecure. Those insecurities prevented me from developing solid friendships and personal relationships. If I was going to be an effective leader, I knew I would have to develop better people skills.
Self-awareness and Becoming Others Oriented
I intentionally began pushing myself beyond my comfort zone to help others go beyond theirs. I knew that the golden rule would be the easiest place for me to begin. “Treating others, the way I would want them to be treating me” was my first step toward becoming others oriented. This took my focus off my own feelings, and placed it on the feelings of others. This taught me some much-needed lessons about myself. Learning that others were often struggling with the same things, enabled me to empathize with them. I was now becoming a relational and empowering leader.
Four invaluable things I’ve learned:
- Connect with and live out of your core values – never compromise.
- Examine your own habits – why do you have them? Where did they come from?
- Manage your emotions – why do you act or react the way you do? Now change them.
- Know your strengths, weaknesses, and limitations – always be honest with yourself.
Gaining control of your thoughts, influences your emotions, which drive your decisions, which impacts your relationships. Knowing the “why” behind these, is empowering and liberating. Self-awareness allows you to be highly intentional in all you do. “Leaders who are intentionally relational and empowering will secure lasting impact for the greater good.” -JSP
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