Grow Your Business Relationships: The 5 Ways to Become a Relational Leader

wallaceThe following is a guest post from Ed Wallace, covering principles from his new book, THE RELATIONSHIP ENGINE: Connecting the People who Power Your Business (AMACOM October 2016).

You know intuitively that relationships matter when it comes to business success. It’s harder to put that knowledge into action for a company, where quantifiable facts tend to reign supreme. Yet it’s the Relational Leader, a leader who prioritizes business relationships and their effects on the company, who leads modern companies to success. Read on to discover the five practices that make a Relational Leader.

  1. Always be ‘Intentional’ about Relationships

A Relational Leader is anyone who intentionally puts the other person’s goals and values at the forefront of each business relationship, creating an exceptional experience for others. This practice is known as Worthy Intent. Being intentional about business relationships is a career-long pursuit that allows the Relational Leader to launch, advance and elevate relationships across hierarchy and generations.

What can you do to become a Relational Leader? Make an intentional commitment to put the relationship at the forefront in all of your interactions.

  1. Become Great at ‘Observing Behaviors’

As ‘intentionality’ manifests, Relational Leaders become dialed into the behaviors of the important business relationships and ad hoc, drive-by relationships around them. This capability can be developed whether you are an introvert or an extrovert; a Boomer, Gen, or Millennial; a manager or a team member. It begins with paying attention by being completely in the moment with the person you are working with, then engaging them with well-thought-through questions, and finally with capturing the Relational GPS® – their Goals, Passions, and Struggles that emerge and utilize that GPS to continue to build the relationship.

  1. Respect ‘At-Will’ Relationships

Most business structures today are a complex combination of hierarchical and cross-functional approaches. Leaders no longer make requests solely of those in their chain of command; they consistently need experts from other areas, while knowing that their requests might not fit into those experts’ work descriptions. That makes the support these experts provide “at-will.” Relational Leaders respect the role and challenges of their At-Will colleagues and find ways to adapt their approach in ways that balance team and At-Will relationships, commitments and timelines.

  1. You are the ‘Value Proposition!’

A company’s value proposition is the benefit it offers to its clients or whichever other party it serves. Think of the best leaders you have observed and spent time with during your career. Now think about what made them memorable and a great leader in your eyes. You likely are recalling that their intentions were good, they stood for more than just the organization, and that they had a purpose that was bigger than themselves. In essence, they didn’t promote themselves, but the value they could bring to others. To become a Relational Leader, don’t promote yourself—promote what you can provide to achieve common goals with others.

  1. Inspire Purpose in Your People

Relational Leaders inspire a sense of purpose in those they work with. They see the larger good of the organization, the project, or the product and the importance and excitement of their own role in supporting these. People perform at their best with a clear sense of purpose when challenged with the following five questions:

  • Who do you want to be?
  • How do you want to be perceived?
  • What am I here for?
  • What is most important to me?
  • What will my contribution be?

When employees feel purposeful about their actions, they perform better and more efficiently. Relational Leaders are in a unique position to help the people around them identify their purposes and contribute more effectively based on that. With their purposes in mind, these employees can identify how they’re best suited to help those around them—and in effect, they become Relational Leaders in their own spheres!




Ed Wallace is President and Chief Relationship Officer of Relational Capital Group. He consults with and speaks for corporations and associations across the globe with a client list that is a who’s who of Fortune 500 companies. In addition, Ed is currently on the Executive Education faculty of Drexel’s LeBow College of Business and Villanova University’s Human Resources Master’s program.

One response to “Grow Your Business Relationships: The 5 Ways to Become a Relational Leader

  1. Pingback: Podcast: Ed Wallace on Becoming a Relational Leader | AMACOM Books Blog

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