leadership hack 101: make friends

Great leaders are effective relationship-builders. They function as the hubs of dynamic relational networks, in which information, ideas, and innovations are shared through and around them.

Great leaders know their success is integrally correlated with the strength of their networks. They understand that their reach is furthered, their impact is deepened, and their voice is amplified by an engaged, connected relational web.

Many leaders of title speak their ideas into dark rooms of disengaged employees. Great leaders cast vision in ways that enlightened and empower their teams - turning employees into partners, turning disengagement into passion, and turning challenges into opportunities.

There are, of course, outlier examples of leaders who accomplish great things as solo efforts. And, they are, of course, the outliers. The very best chance for you, and for me, to become the effective and impactful leaders we want to be is to invest in those around us. We must be willing to celebrate the success of others, champion the ideas of others, and support the work of others.

I have never been disappointed by putting myself into the service of a great idea, whether it was mine or not. And, I have been overwhelmingly blessed by the service of so many others in response to some of my ideas. 

True relational networks are give-and-take systems. Support never runs just one direction. Leaders who get this, get stuff done, with people they like, in ways that are meaningful to them.

Let me encourage you: build good relationships. Take the time to be open, to be authentic, to be vulnerable, to be excited, to be passionate, to be wounded, to be discouraged, and to be available to those around you. 

Take people out for coffee. Share your dreams with them. Ask them theirs. Find people who know things you don’t. Ask them to explain their worlds to you. Explore the lived experiences of others with wide-open eyes and a wondering heart. Reserve judgment. Exercise grace. Become a master question-asker.

If there is one thing that I can say for myself, and this has become my life anthem, it is that I deeply and fully believe that all people matter. I work hard to work this out every day. 

I promise you this: you will never, ever, regret spending time and emotional energy in constructing a meaningful relational network.