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Friday, November 5, 2010

Never underestimate the power of relationships

The more I read the more I realize that there really is nothing new being said about good leadership. Sure, we repackage it and give it new stories. We exemplify new models to pattern ourselves after, and we love to tell stories of success. But at the end of the day, leadership, at least to me, still boils down to relationships.

Now don't get me wrong, I've said it before and I'll continue to say it. Relationships are difficult, time consuming, and fragile. They take effort and hard work, time that many leaders just are not willing to invest. However, I would still advocate that for long term success there is no other way.

Here's an example. First a disclaimer, this is not a political leaning one way or the other, just an observation. Not long ago our president built a platform of change and hope. A platform that grabbed the American people, especially young people. He, in a sense, built a relationship with people that most felt was genuine. And the powerful thing was that his relationship seemed to transcend the presidency and cross over to congress and the senate. What happened? In this weeks election the American people, although fickle, lost faith in the relationship that had been built and in large numbers went back to previous relationships on the other side of the political spectrum. In my estimation, that was a quick reversal. Yes, America has seen some tough times. And let's be honest, regardless of who is and has been in office, things were doomed to be difficult. However, America has seen other tough times. What's the difference, relationships. Whether realistic or practical, the president's campaign looked different than his practice while in office, and that has rubbed off on his political party (again, I am not a poly-sci professor, just an average American voter with a vested interest in our country). The relationship simply was replaced by the urgency of business.

That's an extreme example, but I think it speaks to the power of staying connected to those who support you and in a sense got you where you are. In reality, there is no way the president could lead the way he campaigned, and Americans should have never expected that. But we do. However, most of us can lead with relationships in tact. My world of relationships and responsibility is not millions of people, let alone global in scope, but it is equally as important and fragile. People are expecting that the relationship I had with them yesterday is the same relationship I will have with them today and tomorrow. And, if that relationship has been damaged, it is my responsibility to work damage control and try to re-establish that relationship.

I'll say it again, leading through relationships is tough. But the rewards, personal and professional, far outweigh the effort. It is through our of relationships that we both influence and are influenced. And when influence through positive relationships begins to take place the possibilities for everyone involved are endless.

Something to think about...

Lead Strong,


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