Persuasive Leadership: Relationships


This is the second of a three-part series this month that focuses on leadership in persuasive communication through one-on-one interactions. The first article is here.

We talk about “building relationships” so often that it has become trite. It’s a catchy phrase that’s overused and misunderstood. Having said that, it’s still extremely valuable as you lead through persuasive communication in 1:1 interactions.

Consider President Johnson, once again. In shepherding landmark legislation through the Congress, he relied on his personal relationships with members of both the House and Senate. He knew their wives, and their kids, and what was important to them in their respective districts. By knowing the people he needed to work with intimately, Johnson leveraged these relationships to achieve his goals with remarkable speed.

We often think of relationships as a means to an end. It is not the goal. Here’s a hard question for you to ponder: Do you really value those you lead? This question requires a bit of soul searching. So often, we are focused on our goal and the things we need to accomplish, that people around us are seen as a means to an end. But here’s the thing: If that’s your thinking, those around you know it. They will feel expendable, and it won’t work.

How do you view the people around you? Do you acknowledge they are a person, not just a position? Do you seek their success and value it?

This is probably a good place to confess that I have viewed people around me as tools to my goals. It has taken time and failure for me to adjust what I value. It takes a brave leader to pause while reading this and take an honest, hard look inwards. Yet, I know you can and will. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t aspire to be the best leader you can be.

You likely need to have successful people around you for you to succeed. I’m willing to be that they are cheering for you and want to be part of your success. So how do you get there? Here are three ways:

1: Understand Your Audience

Anyone who has read my work or listened to me on stage knows that I believe everything is about your audience. Always. This is not about you — it’s about them. This same principle applies as you lead through communication and specifically persuade in 1:1 meetings. The sooner you shift that mindset, the sooner you will find success.

Try this exercise. Think of one person critical in your orbit. Say his or her name out loud. Recall memories. Now, answer these questions:

  • What’s the biggest struggle in this person’s life right now? What is keeping them awake at night?
  • What do they value in life above everything else?
  • What is their love language?
  • What’s this person’s greatest dream for his or her professional career?

2: Give Them Your Most Valuable Asset: Your Time

We are all busy. I get it. And I’m starting to believe that it’s more of an excuse than a reason. I’m also starting to wonder “why” we’re so busy. Perhaps it makes us feel important? How often have you asked someone how they’re doing to hear them reply: “Busy!”?

Wouldn’t it be nice to jump off the hamster wheel of busyness and instead lead a meaningful and mindful life?

Giving these key people in your life time will change everything in your relationship with them and their willingness to be a part of your vision and dreams.

Again, let’s reflect on that same person that you brought to mind in question number one. With that specific person in mind, ask the following:

  • Do you have a regular, established time to meet 1:1?
  • When was the last time you had a spontaneous time together just to catch up with what’s happening in his or her life? Or just to offer praise and appreciation with no other agenda?
  • When was the last time you planned a special time away with just this person? Perhaps that looks like leaving the office early one afternoon and hitting a craft brewery with no objective other than to be together.
  • When was the last time you made a positive response to something they posted online?

3: Open Communication That’s Easy, Comfortable, Free Flowing

Can you recall a time that you met with someone with high hopes of a productive conversation only to find that the encounter was stiff and lacked a meaningful connection?

As the person leading the organization, it’s your responsibility to create the atmosphere and conditions for conversations that bring value.

Again, let’s recall the person you named in question number one. Perhaps say his or her name again just to make this person fresh in your thoughts. And then ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time you asked for feedback AND then implemented the ideas you feel fit well into your organization? And did you give this person the credit?
  • When was the last time that you talked and demonstrated that you were listening by taking notes?
  • Have you ever become defensive in talking with this person?
  • When addressing a situation that didn’t go well, did you blame this person or accept responsibility yourself?

As you work to accomplish your goals and dreams, I hope you realize those close you are one of your strongest assets. They are not a tool for your success. They are a treasure. And if you concretely believe that and your actions demonstrate it, they will believe you. That makes accomplishing your dreams just got that much easier.



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