All great leaders must be experts at relationships.
The management of key relationships is one of the central accountabilities of any superior leader. Some relationships only last through a single project, while others are maintained over years. One thing we do know for sure, we cannot succeed at anything without the help of others. Our success as leaders will be largely determined and correlated to the strength of our relationships.
All leaders are human, not all of the relationships we have are going to be perfect. Thoughts will be had, words will be said, actions will be taken and circumstances will be misunderstood. Above all, those darn conclusions will be jumped to! Remember that great game the guy in the movie “Office Space invented about jumping to conclusions?
The truth is, if you want to be more successful, have less stress, and more enjoyment in your work as a leader, every one of us needs to become more skilled at not only managing our relationships, but mending them when they are broken, and maybe even slightly fragile. Many new leaders step into situations where many relationships are in need of restoration, especially if the organization has been in a very stressed condition. Many successors step in after another leader and the first thing that has to be fixed are the relationships.
Here are some steps or actions that have come to mind as I thought about writing on this subject today regarding mending broken relationships.
Awareness precedes choice. You must recognize where the broken pieces are in order to determine where you’ll begin the restoration process.
Make The Decision
You, as the leader must decide you are going to fix the relationship. The relationship must have value to you in order to make the effort required to improve it. If you don’t make this decision of quality and the commitment required, this already bad relationship situation will get worse.
Know your role in this process and own it. Be clear that regardless of the situation, you have or will play a role in the change in the relationship and that’s going to be critical in your success in repairing any damage. If you just rake the neutral position or worse, blame the other person, your chance for improvement is slight at best.
Strong Clear Intent
Once you decide your intent, your behavior will change. You want to take the time to be deliberate and clear about your decision and intention to change the relationship. Let the other person know both they and the situation are important to you and you want the relationship (not things) to be better. This clear communication of intent is like super glue to cement the restoration process.
We feel great when we are listened to, right? Give this all important gift to the other person. Listen carefully, actively and intently. Not only will you understand them better but you will build trust with them and the relationship can begin building from their side not only your side.
Constant Consistent Effort
You can decide, you can have intent, but there is nothing like doing and doing and doing. If you want better relationships, you must make the effort…it positively will not happen automatically.
Every relationship has two sides. All of these steps are totally in your control. Your efforts can not guarantee the relationship you desire, but there are no guarantees. Not taking any of these steps are certain doom to the already shaky relationship that is in jeopardy.
One last thing, any step you may feel you are not mentally or emotionally ready to take, might be the one that is blocking you from repairing or growing the relationship.