Relational Leadership

Relational Leadership

Today’s workforce wants to be valued by their employer, and they need to know that their leaders care about their professional and personal growth. Leaders must be relational.

While there is an understanding that leaders are not social workers, leaders should also not be micro managers nor should they spend half the day figuring out what’s wrong with their team. Being a relational leader means caring about your team, spending time with your team and encouraging your team. Individuals gravitate toward leaders who encourage a team to expand their professional growth and cares about them at a personal level.
We now have four generations in the workforce, all with unique styles, ways to collaborate and ways to be motivated. The generations identify with different leadership values. There are a few leadership values that remain consistent across the generations.

A business or non-profit who wants to attract and retain talent must look at their leadership. In today’s work environment, it is not enough to offer a high salary or a great benefits package. Other employers can offer a higher wage and more benefits. More than ever, it is the leadership of an organization that will attract and retain talent.
Over the course of a few weeks, I had the opportunity to ask a variety of individuals within each of the four generations what they value most in a leader.

Baby Boomers (born 1945-1964; ages 52-71)

The Baby Boomers indicated leaders must be respectful of others. In addition, they must be able to acquire and command respect from others. Leaders need to appreciate the uniqueness of others and embrace it rather than choose not to understand the uniqueness.

Generation X (born 1961-1981; ages 35-55)

Generation X colleagues indicated that they will follow a leader who takes the time to show them how to do something; that the leader would invest time into their development. They also commented on the importance of integrity, honesty, communication and trust.

Millennials/Generation Y (born 1975-1995; ages 20-41)

Millennials prefer to work in an environment where they can be themselves and able to express their own values. They value a leader who is authentic and not only able to express their values, but also shows an interest in their values. A millennial is more apt to stay with a company where there is alignment between their values and the values of the leadership.

Generation Z (born 1995-2016; ages 1-22)

There was opportunity to ask a few very young individuals what their thoughts were on leadership. The responses back enlightened and simplified the values of a leader. These young people desire a leader who is kind and nice. They prefer a leader that is willing to share their time with them.

Consistent Values in Leadership

Regardless of which generation you identify with, all of us have criteria we look for in a leader. Across all generations there are specific leadership values that are required to develop a healthy organization with a dedicated team. Honesty and trust were consistently mentioned by those interviewed. It’s obvious that honesty is crucial to the foundation of any leadership role. Honesty is closely aligned with trust, and a leader should not only be trustworthy, but also be trusting. Leaders who operate from trust show their authentic self. Their values and principles are recognized by the team and either accepted or rejected.
Another important aspect of leadership is the knowledge a leader brings to an organization. All the generations referenced indicated the relevance of a leader’s superior knowledge in relevant topics. The leader must be able and willing to demonstrate and help team members solve problems based on their experiences and knowledge.

Relational Leadership Defined

Leaders need to be aware of the shifting needs of the four generations in the workforce. If a leader wants to attract and retain talent, they should be more connected to their professional teams. Team members desire leaders who are authentic and that care about them beyond their output as an employee. When a leader cultivates a relational culture there will be a significant amount of trust and collaboration within the organization.
Sheryl Sandburg is quoted as saying, “Presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical, and performance-oriented) no longer holds. Instead, true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.”

A leader is not defined by a title or salary. Nor is true leadership given to a person. Being a leader is a privilege that can only be earned when an individual possesses the leadership values of those within an organization. In order for this to occur, a healthy relationship must exist between a leader and the team. The relational culture will increase collaboration, attract and retain talent and maximize outputs.
Nothing accomplished in business (or anywhere in the world) is accomplished alone. Internal and external relationships are the backbone of an organization’s productivity. Consider the above facts to enhance relational leadership in your community!

By Jennifer Deamud |


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Lifestyle Magazine: Relational Leadership
Relational Leadership
Relational Leadership
Lifestyle Magazine
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