Collectively we have always spoken about leadership development, but yesterday I had an epiphany (meaning : a moment of sudden and great revelation or realisation) that we are naming it wrong. Words are important and if you would like to understand that concept please read Basic Education … Is this ‘A Disclaimer’?
If we say we are developing leaders … It is just our ego speaking – effectively we are trying to tell the world we have got the answers and we can make a difference. The real honest question we should be asking is:
How can we develop people so that they would be more effective?
Life is about relationships, when we are able to have a successful relationship (that may be the relationship with our partners, our children or our parents) we are able to duplicate that success and build more relationships. The interesting fact is that we cannot effectively teach relationship theory, relationships are built with trust and consistency. Which then begs me to ask the question ‘why did we ever waste so much time and energy on leadership development?’ Surely if relationships are important (which they are) then relationship theory should of been taught … Are you thinking yet?
Education was only designed to teach consumers how to be better consumers and not effective people, leadership theory seems to have followed this trend in trying to evolve managers into leaders, yet ignoring the very fundamental of leadership and that is to serve people. Yes indeed leadership is about being effective with people, not systems. We can only be effective with people when we understand how we can serve them and relationships work because we are prepared to give. When we see relationships from a point of what we can get – the relationship usually fails.
What is the key to Relationship Development?
This is probably the question that we will never be able to fully answer. Yet there are a few pointers that we should consider:
- Listening : We underestimate the power of listening, listening will make you more friends, build better relationships and resolve conflict quicker than any other thing we could ever do. When we are able to listen from a point of being kind as opposed to being right, we have honestly found the key to relationship success. This success id duplicatable.
- Vulnerability : When we admit that we don’t have all the answers, we become vulnerable. Vulnerability however is not a weakness, it’s real strength. By choosing to admit that we don’t know and that we have not got it all together, we allow others to see that we are struggling just like they are. We should remember that we are here to make a difference in the lives of others and not judge others because they have not reached the level we think we have reached. The example of a work in progress is better than a completed work.
- Empathy : Often confused with sympathy, empathy is about walking in the shoes of the other person (understanding them) and then helping them to find a solution. Empathy is about making others accountable for their own development and guiding them along the way.
- Emotional Communication : Emotions or Limbic communication makes up 80% of our communication. Without emotions their is no communication, maintaining a good emotional connection with people is vital for good relationships. When we try to remove emotion we are effectively denying the power of communication in relationships.
Relationships are a challenge, life is about relationships. The basic understanding of everything we understand about people comes from our understanding of people. Therefore the better we understand relationships the more effective we can be and ultimately on this fact will help us become leaders and better leaders. Lets all start by having better relationships.