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Why Relational Leaders Develop Strong Productive Friendships

“Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm & constant.” – Socrates

I’m sure we can agree that computer systems, analytics, and statistics can make running an organization a lot smoother. If we’re not careful, we can forget that a valuable team member is still our greatest asset. Placing a process or productivity before our people always becomes counterproductive.

One Harvard study states that leaders should understand that the productivity of each member on their team improves when they’re aware of five factors:

  1. The importance of having a friendly leader

  2. The desire for association with others

  3. The need for acceptance

  4. The yearning for security

  5. The longing for stability within the team.

This same study shows when team members are trusted and believed in by their leader; they become very productive. (1)

Relational Leaders

Relational Leaders understand their effectiveness depends on their ability to develop productive relationships that can add value to their teams and their organizations. I tend to develop positive relationships within the organizations I serve, and most of those relationships become lifelong friendships, the value added is always mutual.

Psychological Benefits of Friendships

Many psychologists agree that friendships are an important part of a person’s emotional well-being. Good relationships can help alleviate anxiety, assist with problem-solving, reduce stress and be beneficial to your overall physical health. Some studies conclude that maintaining two or three close friendships has tremendous mental and emotional benefits. It’s easy to see why relational leaders add so much value to the organizations that employ them.

What are Some Benefits of Good Friendships?

The staff at the Mayo Clinic writing about the connection between health and friendship says,

“Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose

  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress

  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth

  • Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one

  • Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

Friends also play a significant role in promoting overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.” (2)

Some Friendly Leaders are More Outgoing than Others

I’m sure you’ve met people who seem to effortlessly attract others, connect with them and become a positive influence in their lives. Leaders who communicate and relate well in most environments can assemble an eclectic network of loyal friends in a surprisingly short period. Some relational leaders can by nature be loners; they’re by no means antisocial, they’re perfectly happy with a smaller circle of friends, while others thrive on having several circles of friends. Highly relational leaders are “people persons” with an uncanny ability to develop and maintain strong, productive friendships in almost any environment. Even if you’re not a natural when it comes to making friends, there are a few things you can do to become more relational.

“I learned to go into business only with people whom I like, trust, and admire.” – Warren Buffett

3 Ways Leaders Can Develop Strong, Productive Friendships

1. Develop Transparency

Strong, productive friendships transcend some differences such as age, education, economic status, political persuasion, and religious beliefs. The one characteristic present in all mutually beneficial friendships is authenticity. Productive friendships will not thrive in environments lacking integrity. Being real with your team makes you a more influential leader.

2, Understand the Power of Mutual Influence

Whether we’re developing a leadership team or getting acquainted with a new circle friends, over time a culture unique to the group will naturally form. When like-minded people connect a mutual exchange of influence occurs, changing perspectives develop as the connections grow stronger, you can sense the change of atmosphere when you’re together. Each brings their unique skill set and experience to the group gradually shifting the mindset of some within the circle; this always leads to new ways of seeing things which contribute to the development of a new collective paradigm.

3. Be Empowering and Purposeful

Intentionally get to know your people and their responsibilities. Identify and train those capable of making some decisions you would normally make. Walk with them through the process until they can make those decisions on their own; it’ll certainly make your life easier. Think synergy, being a hands-on mentor/leader lends itself to building productive friendships. When your team trusts you, they’ll initiate the discussions involving you in the more important issues. Teams respect relational leaders who take a personal interest in everyone’s overall development.

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” – Woodrow T. Wilson

  1. William J McLarney, Management Training: Cases and Principles, (Richard D. Irwin, Inc. 1964) p. 366.

  2. “Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health” By Mayo Clinic Staff

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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