View in the mirrorThe following are three ways you can help others to achieve best practices for developing a relationship-centric A-team.

Be the Relationship-centric Role Model They Seek

Your bench is desperately looking for a role model to emulate. Why not you? Be the leader who walks the relationship development talk. You aim to raise the bar and set a higher standard for the team, but how’s the view in the mirror? Are you engaging, centered, and focused? Do you invest strategically, formally and informally, in relationship coaching and mentoring, and are you developing a culture unafraid of retribution and with the courage to fail? Your own relationship development performance, habits, and leadership skills will speak much louder than any memo!

Provide Relationship Development Challenges and Opportunities

When was the last time you had to walk a tightrope between two buildings, or stand behind one of your executives while that person fell backward? So many of our relationship and trust development exercises are ludicrous at best! We go into the woods and do all these goofy things that have absolutely no bearing on the reality of the office. As the leader, you have a fiduciary responsibility to create value-based, real-world scenarios for your bench so that they develop value-based, performance-focused relationships, inside and outside the organization. When the bench has a sense of purpose, meaning, and passion around the relationships they develop every day, they may just surprise you when faced with challenges or opportunities and make the impossible possible. If not, you can always go back to paintball fights and capture the flag!

Develop Succinct Relationship-centric Goals

At all levels, create goals that individuals, teams, or organizations cannot achieve by themselves—in essence, goals that require leaders to identify, nurture, and in a win-win manner, leverage relationships. Beyond a clear vision, mission, and strategy (which is often just wall art), help leaders create strategic relationship dashboards, individual relationship initiatives, and personal actions that may or may not call for a change in behavior. This approach tends to have the biggest impact on creating results, as relationship-centric goals drive higher performance. But also keep in mind that relationships go bad when there are misaligned expectations. As such, invest additional time, effort, and resources up front to appropriately align those expectations.

To learn more, read the revised and updated Relationship Economics paperback edition with 40 percent new content, including an all-new chapter 10 on social media and business relationships (Wiley, Feb. 2011).

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