7 steps to improve your leadership through relationships

A good leader must be able to build a relationship of trust with his team, consequently creating a high level of engagement, which has a significant and measurable impact on company performance. Engagement comes from the feeling of belonging, from the desire to make your own personal contribution, from the feeling of being able to grow professionally.

94% of the most loved and successful companies in the world are convinced that the efforts made to create engagement in the staff have the direct result of an indisputable competitive advantage.

 Conversations are important from the point of view of neuroscience

When we are stressed, hearing a friendly voice, which we trust, reduces the level of cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases oxytocin, the love hormone. Neuroscience studies show that an open, sincere, interaction-based conversation is fundamental to building trust in relationships.

All of us, unconsciously, are constantly looking for signs of trust in other people; we are programmed to become experts at picking up these signals. In conversations, we are perfectly able to hear when our interlocutor is moved by real interest in us: if so, we will be attracted to him, otherwise we will instinctively move away.
When communicating, a leader must:

  • avoid behaviors that can be perceived as threatening and dangerous, because otherwise the automatic response would be closure, defense and suspicion;
  • create conditions that not only can please the rational mind of people, but also arouse positive emotions in such a way that an opening reaction is triggered;
  • be honest, never pretend. People are too good at perceiving falsehood. He has to look inside, put aside his ego and try to relate to the other person in an authentic way.

The main factors that help build a relationship of mutual trust:

  • familiarity: intimacy, feeling of closeness to another person, desire to share ideas and opinions;
  • influence: the ascendancy we have over other individuals, the perception others have of us;
  • enhancement: people need to feel appreciated and respected;
  • responsibility: empowering collaborators, making them feel free to act and create independently;
  • transparency: it is important to always aim for maximum sincerity.

Prepare for conversations

When we are about to approach each of the 5 conversations, it is important to be aware of the intention (the real motivation that drives us to want to communicate with someone) and the beliefs we have (most of our behaviors, conscious and unconscious, depend on our beliefs , which can be empowering or limiting).
7 points to consider before starting this journey:

  • Will : do I really want to deepen and strengthen the relationship with my collaborators?
  • Legacy: desire to be remembered for humanity, trust, the beautiful atmosphere that I have been able to create at work?
  • Relationships : How important is the quality of relationships for me, both at work and outside?
  • Courage : am I willing to question my beliefs, listen without prejudice, get involved?
  • Guide : I really care about my employees, do I want to help them realize their full potential?
  • Curiosity : can I listen? Am I really curious about my collaborators’ dreams, aspirations, fears?
  • Mindfulness : am I able to pay attention to the present moment, focusing completely on the needs of the other person?

Base your conversation by establishing a relationship of trust

The goal of this type of conversation is to establish a relationship of trust with your team members, colleagues or stakeholders. The foundations are laid for the success of future interactions, aiming to get to know each other better, talking about general topics such as family, holidays, sports, pastimes. We try to create a sense of familiarity and share values ​​and interests of the people we work with.

You must be motivated by a genuine curiosity towards the other person, by an authentic desire to listen. It is not a conversation that is done once and for all, but will have its continuity over time, as you deepen your relationship.

Leaders often fear that creating too close relationships with collaborators could make them vulnerable or less authoritative; it is not like this: you will be appreciated for your humanity. Remember that the more you practice, the more natural it will be; the more self-centered, therefore driven by personal motivations, the less confidence you will inspire in your interlocutor.
What to do in practice:

  1. identify the person you want to have this conversation with, the reason and when you want it to happen. Reflect and take note of all the people with whom it would be worth deepening the relationship;
  2. set up the conversation and make an invitation. Write the name of the person and the benefits that you could have both (and also the company) from a stronger and sincere relationship;
  3. forward an invitation, asking for confirmation. Get ready to give your best in this meeting: mentally (do you really understand the reasons why this conversation can be useful?), Practically (have you reflected well and planned goals and questions?), Emotionally (this conversation is guided by genuine curiosity towards the your colleague or personal interests?);
  4. schedules the conversation, preparing a series of questions. You have to invite the other person to ask you anything that can help them understand you better and then let the conversation develop, also adding information that you have not been asked for. You will then invite your interlocutor to do the same and talk about himself. You want to understand what is important for him at work, what fascinates him, what are his strengths, the limits, if he trusts people in general, how he defines a good working day, what worries him;
  5. close the conversation by summarizing the points you have in common and the differences; ask your collaborator if the conversation was enjoyed and what benefits it had and then reciprocate, highlighting the usefulness of the meeting in terms of better understanding and building a closer relationship. Express your sincere gratitude for the availability and willingness to share ideas and values ​​with you; follow this conversation with a phone call or a meeting in person to reiterate thanks and benefits obtained.

Agree mutual expectations

This is a fundamental type of conversation to have with all collaborators with whom there is a close interdependence in order to get the best out of one’s work.

You start by explaining  why , your deep motivation, what makes you get out of bed in the morning and what guides you towards the results that are really important to you. You must be clear about the expectations you have towards your colleagues and ask them the same thing: what do they expect from you? How can you help and support each other with mutual benefits?

It’s an important conversation because in today’s world we are all interconnected; yet it rarely occurs in the workplace, due to lack of time and a method of conducting it, or because it is not considered fundamental, nor strictly linked to the business.

It is an opportunity for mature interaction between leaders and collaborators and can contribute to empowering people, who will have a push to work in the agreed direction together, with the moral and concrete support they need.

  1. clarify and define your motivations, your  why , in three phases:
  2. reflect and write down everything you like about your job, what you do with real passion;
  3. reflect and take note of which legacy you would like to leave, as you would like to be remembered by teams and colleagues;
  4. create an image of your work objectives for the current year and identify the passions that will lead you to achieve them;
  5. identify the person with whom you want to have the conversation, when it will take place and the reason (it must be someone with whom you feel you have a particular relationship of mutual dependence);
  6. set up the conversation and make an invitation. Prepare your best: mentally (is it clear to you your purpose and interdependence with this person?); practically (did you plan the elements of the conversation well?); emotionally (have you found an authentic and sincere way to express your motivation?);
  7. schedule the conversation. You must clearly explain what your goals are over a year, what is important to you and ask the other party the same; both of you must try to understand how you can support each other in achieving their respective goals. You can ask explicit questions, such as: “What can I help you with, how can I support you? How do you think you can help me? “;
  8. close the conversation by asking if it was useful. If there have been any benefits, clarify each other. You must be sure that you understand what mutual expectations are and how you can support yourself. Sincere thanks for your availability and openness. After the meeting, with a phone call or in person, thank you again and summarize the objectives and expectations of both. If there are specific actions you have decided to take, remember them.

Show genuine appreciation to the team

This conversation ensures that the people who work with us always feel valued and appreciated, who experience this emotion several times over the course of a year.

It allows you to understand the strengths of a team and the potential of a company, has the aim of focusing on what people are doing well, highlighting the excellence. Showing genuine interest is useful not only for job performance, but also for people’s emotional well-being.