It’s All About Relationships
Since my two sons, Jared and Ben, were young, I have strived to pass on leadership lessons to them that they could use with friends, in volunteer groups, in college and, now, in their careers.
Some of these lessons have been repetitive.
Jared and Ben have integrated some lessons so well that they became inside jokes within our family.
The phrase they have heard me utter more frequently than any other, the one that truly symbolizes my approach to leadership is: “It’s All About Relationships.”
That phrase is short and sweet, easy to say and simple to remember. However, it is challenging to keep front and center – at home, at work and in our civic activities.
What does it really mean?
I believe that in each job we will ever have – manager, supervisor, team leader, teammate – our success will depend upon our ability to nurture and sustain relationships.
You might say, “Wait, Larry. I disagree. In my job, I work independently. I do not have to function as part of a team. I do my own thing.”
I would answer: “Great. And who do you report to? Who evaluates the quality of your work? Who is the ultimate audience for your efforts? Vendors? Customers? Colleagues?”
We live and work in an interdependent world, regardless of our exact position descriptions. Our effectiveness depends upon our ability to build, nurture and utilize the relationships that empower us to flourish.
This principle applies in our private lives as well as our professional lives, in our families and among our friends and acquaintances.
That fact was brought home to me this past week when we had to say farewell to my mother-in-law Sylvia, who passed away after a year-long battle with heart disease one month after her 99th birthday.
She led a long, rich and fruitful life that has left us, her family, sad but satisfied that we enjoyed her wisdom and her company for so many years.
In the eulogies that we delivered at her funeral and the remarks and stories we heard during the memorial services, one fact kept shining through: Sylvia made it a point to build and continue relationships with people from all avenues of her life.
As you might expect, she outlived almost all her contemporaries. Nevertheless, she maintained relationships with those who were also still here – neighbors, work colleagues and friends, all in their 90’s and spread across the country.
What amazed us is the manner she craved relationships with OUR friends and our sons’ friends. Over and over, people commented about how she took a real interest in them, their children, their grandchildren. She remembered their jobs and their interests, she knew their kids’ names, she inquired about any health issues they had experienced.
Sylvia took a genuine interest in people and prided herself on the relationships she built and cultivated throughout her life.
She cared about others.
That reminds me of the old leadership adage: “People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.”
As you begin the new week, ask yourselves these questions:
Which ongoing relationships have you been neglecting?
With whom can you build stronger relationships?
How can you proactively start those efforts this week?
We can all take a lesson from the manner in which Sylvia lived her amazing 99 years:
Let’s always remember that “it’s all about relationships!”