Humans are social animals who depend on interactions with others. To be sustainable and worthwhile, these relationships must be mutually beneficial and grounded in respect. Building strong relationships also requires that you understand the value you bring and how you impact others. Striking a balance between these key elements is not always easy, and sometimes comes about in surprising ways.
What Great Leaders Know
The best leaders know that investing time and energy to deepen authentic relationships based on genuine respect pays dividends—for them and their organizations. Even the famously gruff Steve Jobs understood the value of bringing authenticity to his interactions with others. When something wasn’t working, Jobs was direct: “I don’t think I run roughshod over people…it’s my job to be honest.” When asked whether he could have softened his approach, Jobs answered: “But it’s not who I am.”
It’s also important to note the underlying respect Jobs had for his team: “I’ve learned over the years that when you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things.” This respect led to an uncommon loyalty among Apple executives, who tended to stay much longer than their counterparts at other tech companies.
Though he may have been seen as rude, Jobs was undoubtedly able to inspire the people he worked with. That inspiration—along with some obvious monetary benefits—are what set his relationships apart and ultimately made them rewarding for others.
How About You?
Maintaining mutually rewarding relationships while balancing who you are with the needs of your organization and the demands of your stakeholders is an ongoing task. You need to be socially savvy and ready to act in support of your—and your company’s—values to build and sustain relationships.
Am I aware of the impact of my words and actions on others?
Do I assume goodwill in my relationships?
Do I work hard to build relationships based on ethics and reciprocity?
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“I felt somehow more deeply connected to others in a very spiritual way, and it became clear to me…that serving others through business was more than a job, or a way to make a buck. It was a calling.” — Jeff Westphal President and
CEO, Vertex, Inc.
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