Relationships are pivotal to your success. You cannot succeed being a lone ranger.
Even good leadership is based on relationships. People won’t follow you if they can’t trust you or even get along with you. The key to making your followers trust you is to develop a relationship with them. It is the responsibility of a leader to connect with the people he leads. That can only be done by developing a personal relationship chemistry that takes care of the needs whether physical, emotional, psychological, financial or spiritual, of each follower. The challenge is that some leaders do little or nothing to connect with the people they lead. That is one of the reasons they fail in leadership. A successful football coach, a respectable businessman and a man that is in charge of his home all have one thing in common. It is growing relationship chemistry with the people they lead.
What is relationship chemistry? It is a state of connectedness that defines the way two people relate with each other. The relationship chemistry between two people can be enhanced with both parties making a deliberate effort to get along with each other. This is the simple reason an individual could be the leader of an organisation and the organisation has low productivity. When someone else occupies his position, the organisation begins to flourish. It is all tied to relationship chemistry. So, let us consider what a leader needs to do to connect with his followers. They include:
1. Listen to your followers’ heartbeat
Just as a medical doctor listens to someone’s heartbeat to know the person’s health condition, so it is important that a leader listens to the follower’s heartbeat to know his present state and need. That may mean paying attention to them as a leader when they come with their personal issues. It will require careful and intelligent listening to understand and grasp what they are saying, so that, with such information, the necessary action can be taken. The consequence of a leader not listening to the heartbeat of his follower is that the follower may not feel secure. That might affect his loyalty to such leader. Loyalty is the aftermath of making a follower feel secure.
2. Know your followers’ priorities
The heartbeat of a follower is his concerns and needs. Although he may have given his life to the cause of following his leader, but he also wants his leader’s care in return. Make it your priority as a leader to know and understand the priorities of your followers while mentoring them in the path of success. For instance, you can’t tell a hungry man to go to war. He is probably weak and can’t even lift an arm. His priority at that time is to eat and become strong. After feeding him, such a follower will be ready to give his life for you. This is simply because he knows that the cause he is going to fight for will have a positive effect on his own future too.
3. Catch your followers’ enthusiasm
It is easy to work with someone when you share the same enthusiasm. When a leader and a follower are excited about a particular cause, they do everything to see to the actualisation of such cause. They have both been synchronised to be one, in thought and in vision. Nothing makes a leader run faster, more like when his followers key into his vision. Although catching your followers’ enthusiasm shouldn’t make a leader lose his sense of focus and direction. Once you catch your followers’enthusiasm, it will be easy for them to catch yours and also follow your ideology; simply because you have given them a sense of belonging.
4. Connect with your followers’ interest
One of the keys to building relationship chemistry with your followers is to connect with their interest. As a leader you can easily spot the interest of your follower in their cause of following you. But it is also important that you know their interest outside your cause. You must be able to relate with a follower as an individual that has a life outside your cause. A follower sometimes gets discouraged and tired as a result of the challenges before him and needs encouragement. Most times, this challenge might not come in their cause of following you. So, going out of your way as a leader to help them out in such state will not be forgotten easily.
5. Earn your followers trust
Trust is earned and not demanded. People put their trust in people because such people have been proven in one area or the other over and over again. A leader has to work consciously to earn the followers trust. Not only earning the trust, but also work hard to retain the trust. Trust is a responsibility and when it is saddled on a leader, he is required to work and retain it. “Ade – I hope you trust me, I will not play with the family finance.” “Cynthia – Why should I trust you with the family finance, when I know you have a challenge with saving money, kindly return the money.” Ade had an issue with saving so, Cynthia had a challenge trusting him because she was afraid he will spend the money. Assuming Ade was prudent with his finances, Cynthia would have trusted him.
Just as the life of the human flesh is in the blood, so is relationship the life of leadership. People can trace their success and failures to the relationships in their lives. The quality of relationship you have with your followers will determine to what extent your vision will be fulfilled.