If you can’t get along with people…don’t be a leader!

I’ve always been a strong believer in the importance of fostering effective relationships in the workplace. There is good reason why it is the first competency stated in all three standards; Superintendent, Leadership and Teacher. But some of the best lessons regarding the importance of relationship building have come from the business world. In other words, the importance of effective relationships are not “siloed” in education only. Effective organizations anywhere, are only as effective as the relationships contained within and those relationships must always begin from the leader out. So, if you can’t get along with people, please don’t take on a leadership role!

Maybe it is because I’m approaching retirement and getting a little “cranky in my old age” but leaders need to be relationally focused. This is especially true in education where our bottom line is students and our business is people. You would think that is such a common sense statement and yet, we still have leaders within the education world who “just don’t get it.” Don’t laugh business world, because you have them too!

There is an old saying that goes something like this, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” Non-relational leaders typically just want to be right! It is good for their ego- they get to prove to others how smart, etc they are! Being right is not necessarily evil, it is just that it can’t be used as the only leverage as a leader. “Right” leaders make excuses and point fingers. Sadly, I’m not sure whether “right leaders’ even know what happiness is, since it truly comes from serving others and helping people find the right solutions.

The expectations of our leaders to get along with people has to be higher than it currently is in society. Just because you are good at “X” doesn’t mean you have leadership capacity. Leaders need to be relational and not just with the people who have similar personalities or like them. You see it is up to the leader to try to forge relationships with all…even the ones you don’t really like! And sometimes that’s extremely difficult because there are some miserable people out there and even in your own organization. Don’t get hung up on the relationships that are sour (you won’t please everybody), but also don’t quit trying to build better ones with those individuals. That’s part of the responsibility of a leader, to foster effective relationships with all not just some!

Leaders set the tone for their organization or department. Without the ability to build high quality relationships, compliance rather than commitment breeds. Compliance has never served innovation well and quite simply it is unhealthy for any organization. Commitment to an organization will always start with leaders who value their people and strive to foster effective relationships throughout the organization.

Coming soon… Tips for relational leadership.

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