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One of the Most Important Leadership Qualities that Can be Developed

June 30, 2017

Being a great leader is difficult. Some would argue that a great leader is born, not made. However, we know through research in organizational psychology that individuals can develop. This is good news for organizations - particularly those who cannot simply recruit and cherry pick the best of the best. Although some leadership qualities are more difficult to develop, I have always found it interesting when we identify a leadership quality that most individuals can develop with sheer work ethic and motivation. One quality that has the potential to fall into this category is relational skills. The Leadership Resource Center defines relational leadership as "leadership that focuses on the idea that leadership effectiveness has to do with the ability of the leader to create positive relationships within the organization."

building relationships leadership qualities.jpgYou can think about a relationship leader as someone who focuses on relationships first. It isn't necessary to even think of this in the leadership or business context. We all know people who have a strong focus on relationships. In our personal lives, friendships, marriages, etc., we know that there are certain components that are needed to ensure that our relationships are healthy.

Focusing on the following components helps to build relationships and more effective leaders.


Time Investment

This is probably the easiest one to accomplish for leaders. This is more than just “being together.” Sometimes we think that just because we work with people every day that we are spending time together. However, there is a big difference between being together and working together and collaborating. Leaders need to set aside time in their day to connect with their employees both on a personal and professional level. 



We all know that communication is essential for strong relationships. We sometimes forget about this at work. We have our heads down, working on projects and initiatives. Sometimes we don’t include our employees in the decision-making and communication processes. Keeping everyone in the loop will not only allow them to weigh in and help, but it also gives them a feeling that they are valued members of the team.  Love it or not without open communication you will never achieve strong relationships.    


Mutual Respect

If your employees do not respect you, it's hard to have a strong relationship. Respect is typically earned by individuals that are seen to have integrity and ethics. Leaders need to stand up for their people and do what is right. This one is not difficult for most leaders. 


Common Goals

Most leaders and employees have similar goals. However, this one can be a bit deceiving. Although we think we have similar goals, we have to consider the individual goals of our employees. For some, the goal is a paycheck. For others, motivation comes from recognition and working on a team. Leaders need to make sure that they understand the personal goals of each employee in order to achieve common business goals. 


Let's be honest, we know not everyone has the ability to relate to others. There are extreme introverts, individuals who are socially awkward or prefer to work alone. But, we know that most individuals who have a somewhat "normal" psychological profile have the ability to have relationships with others. Although they may fall down in other aspects, ensuring that their working relationships are solid will help with some of their other challenges as leaders. With a little bit of time and effort, most leaders can develop and prioritize building strong relationships.

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Paul Glatzhofer Paul Glatzhofer is the VP of Talent Solutions based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI Services LLC. He works primarily with organizations that are implementing global assessment and development systems at the leadership level. Paul’s work includes leadership development, leadership skills training, coaching, leadership and executive selection, turnover and ROI analysis, and ongoing feedback development.