Being knowledgeable about relationship intelligence gives you the ability to act with empathy and compassion when it comes to the emotions of others and what they need. Many people think about who they want to be, and many business leaders think about what kind of leader they want to be. But, we must also stop to consider what type of leader their organization or team needs, and whether or not they are fulfilling that role.
Most of our clients love this question when we ask them. Generally, they become very curious and reflective. And, they typically know quite quickly who they want to be, who they need to be, and the value of being intentional in their leadership.
Leading Your Life with Relationship Intelligence
It’s knowing who you are, living by your own values, being intentional in your choices and taking responsibility for your actions and consequences. Not only is personal leadership about being a role model for other people, it’s about being proud of yourself and your actions at the end of the day.
It’s not always easy. As our world and workplaces continually change, who we are and what we stand for can be challenged and even threatened. This means that we may have to make tough choices when standing up for what we believe in is uncomfortable, unpopular, unwanted or dismissed.
What is important to understand is that we must first understand our own needs, beliefs and opinions for ourselves, in order to effectively consider someone else’s. Educating yourself using relationship intelligence tools allows you to see what makes you a great leader, and where you can improve for others benefit.
Personal Leadership: Courage and Commitment
You need the courage to stand in the fire. You need to be willing to brave the storm for what you think is important. This applies on a small scale and a large scale:
- Will you stand up for your unpopular project plan because you know it’s the best idea?
- Are you prepared to take responsibility for impacts of your actions you didn’t even intend?
- Will you hold firm to the life choices that make sense for you despite judgement and criticism?
“Why bother”, you might ask? Why take risks and make compromises that may jeopardize promotions, opportunities and decisions, just to hold to your own beliefs? Fair point. You do it because it offers you the greatest sense of fulfillment to know that you live on your own terms.
Personal leadership isn’t something you’re born with – it’s a habit. You have to build your courage by living your values consistently. How you do anything is how you do everything!
How You Can Take Action For Yourself:
- Ask for something you want.
- Have that uncomfortable conversation that you’ve been delaying.
- Put together a proposal for that risky project.
- Admit to a mistake that you’ve been trying to hide.
How Leaders Use Relationship Intelligence for Flexibility
Leaders have many qualities and competencies they bring to their roles. They do their best to maintain their character and values at all times, but depending on the situation – where the market is, where the company is or what is happening – they have a choice about who they show up as.
In other words, they have a choice… leaders can be intentional about who they need to be (and will be) in any given interaction. Understanding where you excel and where you have weaknesses in your ability to form connections gives you this choice. You are able to deduct what your team needs based on the situation or individual, and you can make adjustments to your leadership style accordingly.
- If you are launching a new program or process, focus on being the leader who champions people for moving ahead with something new and promotes the importance of innovation.
- If you are behind on targets, it may support you most to show up as the leader who brings focus and clarity to help the team move ahead with a clear plan and timing.
- When there is a new market opportunity, be the leader who brings commitment and urgency to be able to move quickly.
- If your peer is pitching a great new idea, be the leader who acknowledges and validates her.
This intention can accelerate your success as it is focused and calibrated to address needs and priorities of the people in your organization. This applies to your direct reports, peers, more senior leaders, partners, and customers.
Using Relationship Intelligence to Be a Better Leader
Intentional leadership gives you deliberate, thoughtful and laser focused leadership.
Consider transparency in leadership as a relatively new idea. In the past, we were taught to hold our cards closely and not to be vulnerable because it was weak. We know today that the opposite is true. Yes, we need to attach a level of appropriateness to being vulnerable but fundamentally it is a necessary and powerful ingredient to leadership today. When you are transparent, you show a more human side that allows people to connect with you. It creates trust and commitment and loyalty.
This rings true for our employees and our customers. Yet, being so new to transparency and vulnerability, what can that look like? How can you really do it? The catch: this requires self-reflection. Pause. Take a pulse. Ask yourself, what the situation and the person most requires from you as a leader. Then, put that aspect of your leadership forward to support the best results.
Here are 8 considerations for you as you aim to be more transparent:
- Speak from your heart not just the spreadsheet – what do you “feel” vs. “think” or “know”
- Be personal – share your own stories and journey
- Share when you don’t know something
- Admit when you made a mistake
- Ask for help when you need it
- Acknowledge the truth
- Replace fear of “not having all the answers” with a spirit of arriving at solutions together
- Have faith that your people can handle the truth and will rise to the occasion. In coaching, we always coach from the point of view that every person is “creative, resourceful and whole”. Coming from this place as a leader is empowering.
Our Relationship Intelligence™ Tool
Personality tests are valuable tools that enable reflection and self-awareness. However, when it comes to providing actionable steps to improve your leadership presence, these tools often fall short.
Our Relationship Intelligence™ Model helps you build great relationships and collaboration skills, work faster and create space for innovative ideas.
Contact Cheryl Breukelman for more information about Relationship Intelligence™.