Relational leadership: Influence is trusting and being trusted

by Create Wellbeing, Inspire Teams

We are our relationships. When we foster positive relationships, we create positive environments, develop positive projects and bring positive change to the world. This power of relationships is the base of relational leadership, focused on the leader’s ability to authentically and empathically engage with others, building inclusive teams.

A relational leader:

  • is driven by a genuine interest in others.
  • creates authentic relationships.
  • understands others.
  • and provides sincere gestures of gratitude and recognition for others’ work.

As we outline leadership theories and archetypes, you can see there is not a single way of being a leader, but relational leadership may be one of the most personally fulfilling styles.

Relational leadership accelerates change

Achieving change as a group is always a challenge. Relational leadership accelerates change by being inclusive, acknowledging the talents in a team and helping everyone work as a cohesive group. The true connections established in authentic relationships fuel the group effort to accomplish the common goals.

With five core characteristics, relational leadership is:

  Inclusive (of diverse points of view) – by actively listening and developing talents.

 Empowering – by sharing information, encouraging or affirming others.

 Purposeful (with individual commitment to a common purpose) – by thinking creatively.

 Ethical (driven by values) – by trusting others; confronting inappropriate behavior; being reliable and responsible.

 Process-oriented (while remaining a group) – by accomplishing the group’s goals with collaboration, reflection, and effective feedback.


Relational leaders bring a positive impact

Part of being a relational leader involves evaluating the impact of your relationships. With a better quality in the relationships you establish, you will notice others will willingly stick around and join you in your endeavors. This creates an environment of relating to others, not controlling others.

To build this environment, it’s important that you actively seek to understand how others assess the relationship they have with you. You have to take into account if the relationships are meaningful to all involved.

The main ingredient here is trust. You will only build quality relationships based on trust. On one side, you need to be reliable and dependable. On the other side you need to trust others, believing in their talents and abilities. You also need to trust the system and how it develops by integrating everyone’s work.

“The leader surrenders himself to the tribe and becomes far greater than an individual alone could ever become.”

Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright (in Tribe Leadership)

To learn more about the skills of a relational leader, check our previous articles:

For exercises to build trust and align organizational and team’s objectives, download our worksheets on Creating cohesive teams and Collaborative decision making.  

We encourage you to understand that leadership is more than a fixed set of skills. Therefore, we are writing about several leadership related theories, approaches and techniques that may be useful to you.

Our leadership topics are a free selection by us of authors and streams of theory, without having any commercial or affiliate biases. Hopefully, our articles will inspire you to check out new stuff, or re-visit and value some of the interventions you may have already implemented.

If you are looking for workshops and training to help your team succeed in working together, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Book a free call with us, let’s talk about how to take your team to the next level.



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