Leadership is Relationship

On this episode Bill and Ralph discuss two leadership “dials:” achieving and relating. We can often achieve results by skillfully relating with people. Listen for tips on how to best relate with others to achieve the results you seek for your leadership, team, or organization.


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*Note: The following text is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors


[00:00:00] Bill Berthel: Welcome to the Get Emergent podcast. Our podcast is focused on individual team and organizational development and performance. We focus on topics such as leadership, human development, and raising the consciousness and awareness of leaders. We aim to provide creative concepts, new ideas, and pragmatic tips and practices for leaders in all walks of life.

I’m Bill Berthel.

[00:00:25] Ralph Simone: And I’m Ralph Simone.

[00:00:26] Bill Berthel: So Ralph, in a recent client engagement, we were together. Participants said leadership is synonymous with relationship. Period. He made that like declaration. I, it’s still sticking with me. I love that he said that.

[00:00:41] Ralph Simone: I love it. You sure? That wasn’t me.

[00:00:44] Bill Berthel: Well, so I mean, it really, it, it resonates strongly with us and I think that’s why we love it.

You know, the context and discussion with that client was about identifying leadership brand. The what values and attributes that you’re known for and are essential to being effective in your leadership. And the participant was making the point that as leaders, we first and foremost have to be interested and good at relating.

And we love that.

[00:01:12] Ralph Simone: Well, I think it supports, and if we look at our four values as an organization, emergent, right? Emergent means coming into being, but our four values are trust. Relationship. Yeah, contribution and growth. Even when we decide right, how we’re gonna respond to a client, or even if they ask a request that we’re not totally comfortable with, we answer it through the lens of relationship and contribution.

So I think we strongly believe so and so I said, you sure it wasn’t me in there? That leadership is relationship and it’s the strength of those relationships. That will lead to more effective and scaled leadership. You are more easily able to influence, inspire, and align people, you know, towards a direction.

[00:02:03] Bill Berthel: Absolutely. And as you and I have discussed and written about, you know, Ralph, the, the full circle organization of which we’re certified in the Leadership Circle Profile Assessment, one of the most research and sophisticated leadership assessments available, it has at the basis of their model, which by the way, is a result of decades of research and human development, leadership effectiveness, and ineffectiveness, right?

They looked at what doesn’t make good leadership as well as human psychology. They suggest that leaders. Basically do three things, two of which are really desired. First, the least desirable is that leaders react, they’re reactive, and this is only undesirable because the primary motivation and drive of most reactionary behaviors, fear, other than sheer excitement or joy, that could be a reaction.

You know, think about it. When we react, we’re typically acting very quickly without much thought. We’re relying on the amygdala of our brain, which is the fear center. And while some, if not, many of these reactions can be effective in producing results, considering certain metrics and performances such as perfection and control and protecting self and relationships, it’s fear-based and ultimately has a poor return on the energetic cost it takes to react.

But the two desirable things all this research suggests and that we want to do more and more and develop, is to achieve and relate. Achieving and relating. We want to achieve things results, but we wanna relate with people to be effective leaders. So at least half of effective leadership, if not more, is relating.

[00:03:45] Ralph Simone: So what would we point the leaders we’re working with towards to strengthen their relating capabilities? So if leadership is relationship. What does that mean to a leader from a development perspective?

[00:03:59] Bill Berthel: Yeah, I love it. So some of it sits in that emotional and social intelligence space, right? Really being able to connect with our own self-awareness and awareness of others, what they’re feeling, sensing, maybe thinking, not necessarily reading people’s brains, but almost reading minds.

It’s really tuning in, tuning into self and others. And then it’s how we manage our behaviors. Manage ourselves and then manage those relationships with others. That’s a big component of the relating side, but even beyond that kind of EI SI space, that emotional intelligence, social intelligence space, creating that caring connection, really humanizing people in their workplace, connecting at appropriately personalized levels, really getting to relate that way.

Fostering team play. Getting people to relate with one another around important tasks around the work. And at a, again, a humanized level where it’s relating with people.

[00:05:03] Ralph Simone: I was coaching a client just yesterday and I, she was talking about a conversation she had with the CEO of the company around their mission, and it was interesting.

It’s to serve employees, clients, and community. And use this knowledge to help them succeed. Mm-hmm. But the order, because this idea of leadership is relationship. It’s relationship with your employees first with your clients or customer second, and then in the broader community in which you serve third.

But I kind of like that, almost the servant leader, one of the ways that I see leadership as relationship is asking myself the question, how may I serve? How may I serve those that are right in front of me, which are typically the employees that are part of the organization.

[00:05:50] Bill Berthel: Well, it is very much that service leadership Robert Greenleaf, I think in the sixties really coined that term and, and wrote the book, actually created the organization around servant leadership.

The full circle people call it selfless leader. And I think it’s the same kind of space where you are in fact relating with others to make sure they have as a leader, the resources they need, the tools they need, the safe space in which to operate and remove barriers that might be in the way of them getting that is that selfless leader, that servant leader space.

[00:06:24] Ralph Simone: Let me ask you some way, we have some hard nosed, pragmatic, results-oriented people perhaps listening to this podcast. Where does achieving fit in? So if leadership is relationship, I mean, is that only half of the equation?

[00:06:39] Bill Berthel: Yeah, so the research shows it’s not so much like a half and half kind of a relationship.

We have to switch the mindset a little bit here. Okay. It’s not too far of a stretch, I don’t think. It’s not relating achieving as two parts of the whole, but more like two poles to manage. It’s two dials. I think of it as two dials that both go from one to 100, whatever the settings are. But we’re constantly finessing these settings on both dials of relating and achieving.

To most effectively create the combination for results considering that situation the people we’re working with, but relating is always on. There’s no zero. Achieving is always on. There’s no zero. It’s like one to 100 or from the movie Spinal Tap, the funny ary, the dial went to 11, right? Cuz they had to do it just a little bit better than everyone.

The dial goes one to 11, right? Not one to 10, one to 11. There’s no offsetting on relating or achieving. We’re always doing both and hands on both dials.

[00:07:38] Ralph Simone: Well, it seems like then maybe this, our addition to our title might be that leadership is relating and achieving exclamation point because I think it, right, it considers both.

It’s the both/and.

[00:07:49] Bill Berthel: It really is, those are the two most highly effective, most desirable, creative competencies in the full circle language that effective leaders create balance in and are always growing those two, developing those two pieces of relating and achieving.

[00:08:07] Ralph Simone: Mm mm So what would we what’s some guidance we would give some of these leaders to strengthen this balance and to really look at leadership as relating?

What advice would we give?

[00:08:19] Bill Berthel: So perhaps first is your authenticity. This is not a fake it kind of space. It’s about being truly authentic. Creating as much of your own unique voice in this relationship, in this relating space to make sure you know it’s, it’s not fake, it’s credible, and that could be different for all of us.

This is a place where our own style comes in and our own level of connecting. I think what’s important here is that as leaders, we don’t really get the opportunity to not relate if we’re going to be effective. And so practice your own authentic style of relating with your team.

[00:08:59] Ralph Simone: So we shouldn’t fake it till we make it then.

[00:09:01] Bill Berthel: Ah, you know, I, I don’t know, and I’ve never been a fan of that. I think practicing, I think trying on new ways of doing it that are maybe a stretch, but comfortable enough, it feels authentic enough. I think practicing till you make it, I think experimenting till you make it

[00:09:18] Ralph Simone: Like it. So what else? What else would we suggest?

[00:09:21] Bill Berthel: So in this relating space, right? We talked a little bit about that. You know, the caring connection. We talked about fostering team play. We talked about the emotional social intelligence space, and we talked about service leadership. I think we could pick any one of those to practice. Service leadership suggests not martyr, putting everybody before you Self-care is really important, but how are we serving those that we lead?

How are we ensuring that they have what they need to be successful? Setting them up for success, coaching and mentoring and developing them. Really important.

[00:09:53] Ralph Simone: I think you’re describing being an inspirational leader and, and I don’t know who this quote is attributed to, but people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

And so I think this leadership is relationship starts with that fundamental premise of how much you care. And you care about their development, their satisfaction, and then that’s going to lead to achieving. That will lead to results. I think sometimes we get it flipped or we don’t spend enough time and energy in their relationship aspect of leadership.

[00:10:29] Bill Berthel: And that’s exactly why it’s a both and not a half and half kind of relationship between relating and achieving. They are integrated with one another. By the way, achieving getting results is going to enhance the relationships. People come to work cause they wanna get stuff done. They wanna feel good about whatever the metric of success is.

Higher sales or more innovation or sometimes beating the competition is kind of fun for some teams. Whatever those metrics of success in achieving is strengthens the relating side. So these are completely intertwined.

[00:11:08] Ralph Simone: So if I’m somebody that’s not comfortable with the people side or some of the soft stuff, What would you suggest I do as a leader so that I could strengthen my commitment to the relationship aspects of my role?

[00:11:24] Bill Berthel: So I was just recently wrote a blog on can we be friends with those that we lead or with our coworkers? And I got a lot of feedback on that blog because I suggested we can. It doesn’t mean best friends. It doesn’t mean, you know, so close to friends that we blur the line of our working relationship, but perhaps it’s about practicing just slightly higher levels of friendliness.

Just slightly higher levels of friendliness in the workplace goes a long, long way. Not talking about being best buds and going out for beers or drinks or whatever you do, and that can certainly fit in this space. But it’s a function of acknowledging and recognizing one another in the workplace a little bit more.

And maybe just turning up the friendliness as a starting point.

[00:12:10] Ralph Simone: Can you give a few more examples of what turning up the friendliness might look like behaviorally? Cuz I think this is interesting.

[00:12:17] Bill Berthel: Yeah. So be a little curious about the people that you’re working with. Be a little curious about something that they’re interested in.

Perhaps it’s about their hobbies. Perhaps it’s you know, that they’ve got kids and those kids are in sports or dance, or they play a musical instrument. Most of us do like to be recognized that way and at least have a little bit of chit chat or talk about what’s going on in our lives. Show us some interest in the people you’re working with in their lives.

Ask them how they’re doing. Ask them how they’re doing. If you don’t know anything about them yet, ask them how they’re doing, what they’re thinking, what they’re reading, what their favorite thing they’re working on right now is.

[00:12:59] Ralph Simone: So I love your enthusiasm on this, but I can imagine there’s some curmudgeon, grumbling.

I’m not good with small talk, and that sounds like small talk to me. How might we get them into action and not let that belief be a barrier to relationship?

[00:13:16] Bill Berthel: Yeah, so I think well two things there. Before you mentioned them as soft skills and I, I think there needs to be a reframe there. These are not soft skills.

These are skills to practice. These are skills. They don’t come natural to everyone. I totally recognize that these are skills to practice, and I’d like to reframe that is that they’re actually power skills. They create more power in your work as a leader. They create more influence. They’ll create more credibility.

They’ll help you achieve greater results with your people. The other piece in there I think is if we’re telling ourselves, I’m not a people person, or I’m not good at this, you’ll be right. I think you’ll, you’ll get to prove yourself right every time at that. So I think there needs to be a little bit of an internal shift on that as well to say, well, what would it look like to experiment in this space?

Or what would it look like if I. All right. I’m not gonna be a big softy album. I’ll never be that. But what, what would it look like just to turn up the friendliness a little bit or be curious about those that I work with and, and ask them a slightly more, I’m putting air quotes, you can’t see them cuz you’re listening.

Little more personal with people.

[00:14:25] Ralph Simone: I think that’s brilliant. I mean, I think soft skills is an inauthentic way of saying some of this is hard. Yeah. And just, just being honest about that, you know, and practicing it. And if you’re a leader, you’re in the people business, get over yourself, you know? Figure out a way to make more connection because leadership is relationship, it’s interdependent, and we need to be able to make that connection if we’re gonna inspire influence in align people towards achieving our objectives.

[00:14:54] Bill Berthel: So I wanna go back to the client who said, That leadership is synonymous with relationship cuz he said something else that really, really stuck with me that I think kind of, you know maybe, maybe in a way punctuates today’s podcast as he said, that managers tend to manage things and results and resources, but leaders, lead people.

Mm-hmm. You just said it. If you’re a leader, you’re in the people business. Leaders lead people. And to do that, we relate. I thought that was an important differentiation. It’s not saying managers can’t relate with people, but his differentiation made made a lot of impact on me to really underscore that leaders are in the people business.

We really are. We’re leading people, we’re leading relationships with people.

[00:15:43] Ralph Simone: So one action I’m taking on is to make a connection with somebody in my organization today that I haven’t taken the time to make. And you know, because leadership is relationship and the stronger the relationship, the stronger the trust, the more that we can do together.

Both through results, contribution, and growth. So that’s one takeaway I’ve gotten from our conversation today on leadership.

[00:16:08] Bill Berthel: Oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah. That’s, that’s fantastic Ralph. And for me personally, so just a few months ago at the beginning of the year, I made the goal and aspiration to write three kind of notes. They might be emails, they might be handwritten, notes of gratitude to people that I work with, that I coach, clients that I work with, or even on a personal level. And I gotta tell you here we are near the end of March and I haven’t stuck to that goal and aspiration. So this is re-energizing me to get back to that connecting point of writing three notes a week of gratitude or appreciation of three folks in my life.

[00:16:42] Ralph Simone: Great.

[00:16:43] Bill Berthel: And you can listen right here to a new podcast two times a month where we bring you contemporary leadership topics and ideas, balanced with better practices you can apply to your leadership.

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