This week we've been looking at a few of the frustrations of leaders and, on Wednesday, on Episode 14, we talked about what we believe is one of the most important ways that leaders can smooth out some of those frustrations: investing in relationships. We looked at eight ways to build relational foundations with those you are leading in your organization. Today we’re going to expand on some of those ideas with practical ways to make those connections.
Our first step toward building relationships was spending some one on one (or family on family) time outside of church with your leadership. When you do have this one on one time, we would encourage you to do it not only outside of church, but also outside of your home. There is a tension in asking someone over for dinner—for the host who has to prepare and the guest who has to be on their best behavior—that doesn't always make for the easiest “first date.” Instead, go out to dinner, or find a local sporting/entertainment event that would be fun for everyone involved. Nobody has home-field advantage, and hopefully everybody can drop their guard just a little bit.
Next, we talked about asking for input and actually listening to your leadership team. When you start a conversation, remind yourself that the goal is to keep an open mind and ear to the person you’re speaking with, not just to convince them of an agenda or direction you want to take. That means we don’t enter a conversation with our specific agenda in mind, but instead we really open ourselves up to hear where another person is coming from and their input into a project or situation. When we let our minds wander back to what we want, we stop listening and start strategizing our next move. This takes practice, but will pay dividends in the long run.
Expectations are another important block in the foundation of a relationship. In order to express your expectations for others and also to learn their expectations of you, it's important to have a meeting before the meeting. Let your leadership know that you want to get together specifically to share expectations. Let them prepare themselves, make lists, and really pray and think about what they are bringing to the table, and also what they are looking for from you. No one wants to come to a meeting if they don't know the subject matter, especially something as serious as sharing expectations. Taking the time to do some preparation will take the stress out of what could potentially be a tense situation.
Finally, affirmation is important, but it has to be grounded in reality and facts. We can say “you’re the bomb!” until we’re blue in the face, but a person won’t truly feel affirmed unless we add substance. The Bible is pretty clear that we should be in the business of building each other up, so look for very real and tangible areas where your leaders are excelling and give them a boost! Write a thank you note, buy a gift card, celebrate accomplishments with your team and let them know that you appreciate them and their talents. Affirmation grounded in truth is motivational and helps build relational capital, but hollow affirmation only serves to erode trust.
What about you? What are some practical steps you’ve taken in the past to build relationships with those around you? Your board or your leadership team? We’d love to hear from you and get a conversation started!
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