Take a moment, stop and think about where you are right now. Are you reading this article on a break at work? Are you at home? Are you at school? Now, take your thoughts a step further and think about how you got there. Did a friend or mentor help you? Did someone who was introduced to you by a friend or a mentor help you get there? Your approach on how you build, cultivate and cherish relationships may have a lot to do with your answers.
My family chose the neighborhood we live in based on relationships. We love the area but more importantly we have friends that live nearby. I’m working with a wonderful organization because I’m qualified to do so, but that is in addition to the relationship I nurtured with my manager over many years. I’m able to share these tips with you today because I’m passionate about this topic but also because of relationships that I’ve cherished that have given me the opportunity to share. Without these relationships, it is likely that these outcomes may have fared differently.
The sixth principle of the ATHENA Leadership Model to enable enlightened, successful leadership is: Build Relationships.
We’ve all been in interviews where the hiring manager says, “I know you can do the work, but are you a good fit?” This is code for “How do you build relationships within and outside of an organization?”
This may sound simple, especially for those that consider themselves master networkers and those with careers that require them to maintain relationships on behalf of their organizations. Alternatively, it may seem difficult for someone that is introverted, quiet or simply “laid-back”. However the reality is that whether you are a networker or an introvert by nature, that has nothing to do with how you build, cultivate and cherish your relationships, especially those relationships that contribute to successful leadership.
Make Time for People
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
We all lead very busy lives but I try to make an effort to make time for people. Not just my family, but people in my life. This may mean I take a moment in the first team meeting of the week to ask, “How was your weekend?” In the middle of the day I may think about my mentor or friend and send a quick message that says, “Hope you are having a good day. “ If I am in the car, I may call a young woman looking for some guidance on her career. You may have other methods, but our goals are the same. We want the people in our lives to know, despite all the noise – we are thinking about them.
Actions, Not Words
Remember, it’s your actions and not your words that matter. It isn’t the number of people that you are connected with on LinkedIn but rather the number of people that you can help. Applying this principle to your life will make others feel good about you and you’ll feel good knowing that you’ve given something back to them that is leadership defined.
Connecting Genuinely with those Around You, Regardless of Status
Martha Mayhood Mertz, the author of Becoming ATHENA, Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership tells us, “THERE IS AN ART TO RELATIONSHIPS: Building them requires sensitivity, creativity, attention to detail, and time.” As you go throughout your day, look for moments to connect genuinely with those around you, not just those that can help you but more importantly those that you can help. It won’t happen overnight but overtime you’ll feel the value of the time and the people that you’ve invested in.
Hope Newsome is the Chief Compliance Officer and Assistant General Counsel at Triloma, a private investment management firm that manages and sponsors private and publicly-offered investment programs, headquartered in Winter Park, FL. She was a member of the inaugural class of ATHENA NextGen in Orlando in 2014.