The Most Common Reason Leadership Fails: Relationships Fail
What is the most common reason leadership fails? Failure in relationships.
As I observe leadership around me, I consistently witness the following:
I rarely see people with bad relationships lead each other well.
I rarely see people with great relationships not lead each other well.
Failure in Relationships
Failure to form good relationships is the most common reason for leadership failure. Smart capable individuals repeatedly coming to dead ends because they fail to build strong relationships and create cultures that fosters them.
When we have healthy relationships with others, communication is easier, connection is stronger, conflict is resolved quickly, and goals, dreams, and fears are shared readily. In other words, the most vital elements of leadership have an ideal culture in which to work!
It’s true there are other elements required to succeed in the workplace. We need vision, integrity, accountability, a great work ethic, etc. But what is often overlooked is the value of flourishing relationships between team members, and most importantly between leaders and their teams.
Failure in Leadership
I want to share with you common misconceptions leaders have about forming relationships:
- I don’t have to like you to work with you. While possible, this makes for a miserable time for everyone involved. I want to like the people I work with. I want them to like me and enjoy my company. How can we solve problems and have healthy communication if we annoy each other? Yes, sometimes we have to work with someone we cannot connect with. If you have to, that’s another matter—then, you must do the best you can. But as you build and grow a team, work toward having a culture of likability.
- I don’t have to have a personal relationship with you to lead you. The best leaders in my life have always been those who know me on a personal level. They know my strengths, fears, and dreams. They care for me as a person. But those who hide behind their “professional masks” have never been impactful to me. Reach deep, see others as human beings. Let them in to see the person you are—not just “the boss.”
- I don’t have time to build a relationship with people. If you don’t, then you should not lead people because you will not be able to lead them well. Mature leaders recognize the importance of relationships and make time to build them.
- I am here to work, not to build relationships. If excellent work is your aim, then building fruitful relationships should be your goal. People will thrive and teams will be more effective in environments where relationships are encouraged.
- We should not joke around; we need to stay professional. Have you ever seen a team that laughs and jokes together? I mean genuinely, maybe in the middle of a serious meeting, someone says something quirky and everyone erupts into laughter? I have! These are usually the most productive teams. They are the happiest teams. They are the most well-led teams. While this should never be an excuse for unprofessionalism, completely eliminating fun from relationships will hinder their ability to thrive.
When I see poorly led organizations, it is invariable that I see poor relationships running rampant. Usually the top leadership is modeling this culture. I see them not forming strong personal relationships. One of my top priorities as a leader is to create a culture where healthy relationships are both expected and celebrated. I rarely if ever work with someone closely (in my inner circle) unless the relationship is strong. If the relationship will not develop, I try my hardest to move on. This is best for them and for me.