How good are your relationships?


We recently read the book, 3 Vital Questions: Transforming Workplace Drama, by David Emerald, who also authored The Power of Ted* (* The Empowerment Dynamic), which has been one of our favorites for its insight, which is so relevant to our business lives, as well as our personal lives and relationships.

3 Vital Questions is insightful and helpful, as well. The approach offered makes sense. It is simple – and simple is good!

It is three basic questions to ask ourselves – often, i.e., monthly, better weekly, ideally daily.

  1. Where is my focus?
  2. How are my relationships?
  3. What actions/steps am I taking?

This is about our discernment and self-reflection leading us to intentional and focused action, which is so very important!

1. Where is my focus?

Is my focus where it should be, what is most important?

As a leader, am I focused on listening to my team members and other colleagues, and really hearing them, i.e., what they are saying and their reasons, and how they are feeling? Am I listening to learn and understand?

Are they feeling my appreciation and gratitude? Leadership is how we help others feel about themselves.

And leadership is about helping others do great work and be successful. Am I focused on doing just that?

Kindness is motivating. Am I communicating with kindness, respect, and dignity?

As a leader, offering timely and helpful feedback is being kind. People want to do good work and be successful.

My longtime boss, Bill Dunn, was conflict avoidant, as so many of us are. In my performance reviews he would say, “You’re doing great, sport.” I would reply, “Thank you, but please tell me what you think I could do better.” I would have to pry it out of him. He just did not want to hurt my feelings.

This is common, leaders being hesitant to offer timely feedback if about improvement. There is an art to it. We should learn how to do it successfully. It strengthens our team members and enriches our culture.

Fortunately, Bill Dunn was outstanding in every other aspect of leadership. He was all about the team, totally selfless, cared deeply about each of us and our well-being, and was always ready to do all he could to help.

As a leader, do I understand that I am a team member? Do I know what being a great teammate looks like?

2. How are my relationships?

This question is critical. Whatever our field, we are in a people business and our relationships matter greatly. The better our relationships, the better and easier work gets done. Happy people do better work!

A problem is many assume their relationships are fine – and they are not. Many lack self-awareness and do not realize how they are received and perceived by others.

We certainly want to be respected by our team members and other colleagues and for them want to work with and follow us, to do their very best for us.

The only way to develop and maintain sound and productive working relationships is through one-on-one conversations. We must make the time to do this. And to be ourselves, no airs, to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. This opens the door to trust, which is the foundation of solid relationships.

We all have had experience with people in management positions who are self-focused, rather than other-focused. They often assume their relationships with their team members are fine, and they are not. People need to feel you care about them. If you really don’t genuinely care about them, they will sense this.

Great leaders focus on their people, not numbers.

3. What steps/actions am I taking?

Even baby steps make a difference. If there is a desired outcome, even doing the little things to get started or to keep us going puts us in a positive mindset. It really does. The most difficult step for a long-distance runner, is the first step, the one out the door. And this is true in business, to make something happen, take a step forward. We’ll feel good, as will our teammates.

I am a believer in “to do” lists. A key to success with “to do” lists is to list maybe just three desired outcomes, only three, and to make them the most important objectives – not the easy ones – the truly most essential ones that, when accomplished, will make a difference.

With the busyness of today’s world, the endless information coming at us, the number of meetings and interruptions, it is easy to not take a step towards what we want to achieve. Let’s recognize and avoid letting this happen.

Let’s make the right things happen.

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