3 Ways To Create Relationships As A Leader

Relationships are an essential part of leadership. They connect you to other leaders, expand your influence, and allow you access to mentors.

You can’t go wrong in forging relationships.

Image via Mark Sebastion

Image via Mark Sebastion

And yet many leaders struggle with relationships. Either they don’t want them or they don’t know how to create relationships.

Let’s try to solve this issue today.

I’ve discovered three techniques that will make it a breeze to build relationships with other leaders and members of your tribe. Let’s get started!

1. Make yourself available: A big hindrance to building quality relationships is many leaders refuse to make themselves available to others. These leaders want to be an island unto themselves. Forging ahead and being the lone ranger.

However, this creates a problem. You’re not reaching out to others and offering your talents. You’re keeping it all to yourself.

Instead, make yourself available. Go to conferences, create a blog, contact local leadership organizations. Find a way to get outside of your world and enter the worlds of other people. Create contacts you can call on and can call on you. Before you know it, you’ll have built a network.

2. Stop talking, start listening: The major mistake a lot of people make in building relationships is they want to do all of the talking. The problem? It leaves the other person feeling left out.

Instead of talking and dominating the conversation, allow the other party to enter into the conversation. Ask questions that will encourage them to share their story.

Let them feel they’ve had a say.

3. Be generous: How many times have you met someone who wanted something from you but had nothing to give? When I’ve experienced this, I’ve walked away feeling dirty and used.

If you’re someone who’s always taking, stop it. Instead learn to be more generous.

Create something of value that you can give others. Maybe you offer a free coaching session. An offer of a free lunch. Write a blog with killer content. Or a free  eBook (Did you know I’ll be releasing one shortly?).

We’ve all got something of value that we can give. Be generous with what you have. When you do, others will be generous with you.

Question: In what ways are you creating relationships? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Joe,

    As leaders we have to help ourselves before we can help others. However, think back to those who reached down and pulled you up. What is all the studying, the development, the sacrifice for if we are not helping others.

    I work for a very senior Army official and I am grateful to see him operate. I am even more grateful when I make a time to help others and share what I have learned. In my opinion the best part of my day is the time I spend developing others.

    Today, I spent an hour speaking with a new Soldier and I had an impromptu meet and greet with someone I had been mentoring but had never physically met in person. These encounters made my day. Oh one more thing. I sit down and I work with them to create development plans to help them grow. No rubber stamp jobs either.

    • That is awesome TJ. One area I’ve seen you do a great job is in creating relationships, especially among bloggers. You tend to reach out and interact with a wide variety of leaders, those growing your influence.

      It looks like you’re doing the same in your military career. Building up and building down, creating relationships all around. Good job!

  • DS

    All three of those are great ideas Joe and will definitely forge relationships. I’d suggest that showing up consistently in each of those areas will also contribute long-term.

    I’m trying to do it via a blog, twitter, by sharing great content, by encouraging others, and trying to be a good example.

    • David, your addition is on target. If we’re not consistent, our relationships will falter.

  • I have seen this more and more the deeper I get into the blogging/writing world. The people at “the top” all know each other. It’s easy for me to scoff and say, “Well of course they know so and so…he’s a big time leader.” Yet, they had to meet and connect at some point. They are not simply bound together by being a big shot.

    You’ve got to create a connection and keep it going. That’s one of the keys I think.

    • Tessa, creating the connection is key. When you take a look at guys like Jeff Goins, he reached out to connect with Michael Hyatt. He was a “little” guy reaching out to a “big” guy. But without the effort, it wouldn’t have happened. Are you doing anything like that?

      • Jeff is actually someone I was thinking of when I wrote my first comment and how he knows people because he connected with them.

        I try to emulate that by interacting on blogs (such as this one!) and through e-mails. I am not consistent with the e-mail aspect though because I often feel as if I am wasting time with silly questions or that I run out of questions.

        • Have you thought of offering something of value to those you’re contacting via email? Maybe offer to guest post or share with them what they’ve given you. Let them know they’ve given you something and you value it.

  • It can be difficult to build relationship with those you lead, because of the fear that the these relationship lines may blur. We should never let fear make decisions for us. Thanks for these tips Joseph they are right on!

    • Paul, while the lines may blur it’s essential to build the relationships. Without them, we’re weaker than we should be. I think great leaders know how to create a clear line.

  • Looking forward to your ebook!

    I think listening can be the most challenging for me. Sometimes I “think” I’m listening only to realize later that I wasn’t fully engaged.

    Great post. Good tips.

    • Thanks TC. It’s in the final stages and I’m awaiting a cover design and a bit of editing. The readers here will be first to know!

      Many people fall into the trap of not listening. We’ve been taught that nodding our heads and repeating a couple of words shows we’re listening. There’s a place where it’s just not true. How can you improve your listening?

      • That’s awesome, can’t wait to read it.

        For me it would help if I’d just keep my mouth shut, but I also think it helps me repeat back what I’ve heard. This gives them a chance to clarify any misconceptions and it also helps the information to dig into my brain.

  • These are good points to make, and so true!

    • Thanks Lorraine. Is there anything you’d like to add to the list?

  • I’m a firm believer in truly connecting with people, you never know where those relationships will take both of you. I heard someone on an interview talk about how he connects. He says when he meets someone he let’s them talk for the first ten minutes and really gets to know them. People notice and appreciate that and those become great relationships.

    • That’s a great way to make a connection and to really learn about another person. Listening and giving them the chance to speak. You’ve done a terrific job connecting as well, care to share any tips?

  • I’m trying to create relationships by being generous. I have a day job – so I can afford to giveaway more coaching advice than if it was my primary income. The funny thing is sometimes the more generous you are the more the money part works itself out.

    • Tom, you’ve found a truth in the fact generosity is rewarded now. People look for those who are willing to give before they connect.

      • I agree, Tom! It seems each time I am generous with my time or finances, it always comes back in larger sums and rewards! This energizes me and provides even more resources to continue to be generous. It makes life a lot more fun and exciting. 🙂

    • No joke, you are a total model of generosity, Tom! And I see God using that generosity in such awesome ways already.

  • Relationships are so important when it comes to living a significant and fulfilled life. I love this John Townsend quote:“Life is essentially about relationships, and it is empty without relationships.” To influence others requires being intentional in building and maintaining relationships with others. Great points!

    • Dan, John’s quote is so true. We’re often empty and void when we avoid people and relationships. It’s only when we begin to connect that we really live.

  • David

    As a lifelong introvert developing relationships is one of my bigger challenges. It’s one of the areas I’m working on as I continue to work towards change this year.

    • David, being an introvert and creating relationships can be hard. You’re recognizing that and still making an effort. Good job! But also remember it’s not the number of relationships you have, it’s going to be about the quality of those relationships.

  • Tamara Woods

    A leader has more than just “leading” inherent to the role. I think you’ve hit on some of the other tasks a leader has in this post. I would say something else that is important for a leader is to be open and willing to delegate responsibility. Staying the course is not always the best option.

    • Thanks Tamara. You’ve hit an important point. Leaders need to be willing to give away responsibilities. It’s very important because there are people who can do the tasks better than we can and with more enthusiasm than we bring to the task.

  • Joe,

    I think this really pinpoints the importance of leaders being reflective and self-aware. I agree 100% with the being generous part, but I imagine some people may struggle to see what their true offering is that would be of value to someone else.

    I know struggling to see where I could be generous was a very real challenge I faced for a long time!

    Right now, I see a lot of my relationship building happening as a result of asking questions, supporting others and being reflective on how I can be more generous.

  • One way I create relationships is by sharing. Allowing others to become involved with projects and offering others generous rewards for helping with projects.

    • Dan, that’s a great way to create relationships. People love others who are willing to share what they know and have.

  • This may be a little weird, but I love to ask “strangers” out to coffee, just so I can get to know them better. My selection is not completely random, but if I spot someone who piques my interest, I can pretty much guarantee I am going to follow up with a lunch or coffee invite. 🙂 Some of these meetings have turned into deeper, lasting relationships. Bottom line – I put myself out there and show interest in another individual.

    • That is a little weird Alana but it’s such a cool idea. You’re able to meet and interact with people you’d never have the opportunity to without doing that. What’s the most interesting outcome of one of these random asks?

  • The blog world has definitely been a place for relationship building for me over the past few years. Elsewhere, I’m building them through involvement and intentional interaction in the day-to-day activities that keep me busy.

    • Great job Jon. There’s so many opportunities to connect and build relationships now it’s crazy. Keep it up.

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