I left his office feeling like I could take on the world. My boss and mentor hadn’t done anything earth shattering; we had just had a deep and helpful conversation about a situation I was facing as a leader.
He asked questions, listened, offered his experience, and then we closed off with role playing of how I would move through the next steps.
As I reflect on that conversation, I recognize he had ample opportunity to censure my behavior that allowed the current situation to unfold, yet he didn’t.
He leaned in.
He identified what I could and should do.
He walked me through next steps and practiced them with me.
He identified what previous steps led to this point without severity or censure.
He gave me a gift.
He gave me the best gift a leader could give: a valuable relationship with him.
An authentic leader recognizes leadership at its core is a symbiotic relationship between leader and follower.
If leadership is truly a relationship (and I am convinced it is), the best gift a leader can provide is a valuable relationship with their followers.
If you’re like me, you may be thinking, “there is no way I can have a relationship with all of my followers and remain sane.”
A valuable relationship isn’t one that requires you to be BFFs with every single one of your followers.
That isn’t humanly possible.
A valuable relationship is one in which healthy boundaries are in place, joint accountability exists, and a recognition exists that both are an equal participant.
A valuable relationship looks for what the other person needs to grow and develop and respectfully makes it happen.
A valuable relationship requires time, but only the time available for the benefit of both parties.
The problem is, leaders often feel the need to deal severely with those they suppose to be in error without investing the time in a relationship.
This shatters a relationship, if it existed at all.
It is important to note the no one has ever been reclaimed from wrong behavior by censure and reproach. NO ONE.
A valuable relationship is time spent WITH a person to begin to see how they think, how they make decisions, what interests them, what puts a sparkle in their eyes, and how you can be of value to them.
If a valuable relationship is gifted, along with it comes the gifts of kindness, courteousness, and a forbearing attitude.
These characteristics are far better at correcting negative behavior and naturally reside inside a valuable relationship.
The gift of a relationship is the gift of seeing each person as the human they are and giving them value.
Authentic leaders give the gift of relationship.
Authentic leaders give the gift of WITH.
And they receive so much in return.