The heartful leader – part 4
Extraordinary outcomes through inspiration
SUCCEED THROUGH RELATIONSHIPS
In previous articles, RAVI VENKATESAN introduced the Heartful Leader framework and took a deeper look at Reputation and Trust. In this article he explores the topic of Relationships.
Building great relationships is core to Heartful leadership. There are no doubt great things that can be accomplished individually, but when it comes to leadership, it is all about accomplishing great things collectively, and this requires building and managing relationships. Relationships are fluid and have a certain lifecycle. Awareness of vaccines, diseases and cures for relationships can help tremendously in managing them the right way.
There are many diseases that erode relationships. Here are the main ones:
We all run stories in our minds constantly. More often than not, our minds are wired to think through negative scenarios. Call it our inherent survival instinct. For example, observe your thoughts before going to an important business meeting or even a parent teacher meeting at your child’s school. You will notice that you are thinking through points and counterpoints that assume the worst from the person with whom you will interact. After this, observe the actual meeting and check how many of the things you anticipated actually came true. Were you negatively biased? While there are some who train themselves to be overly optimistic and positive all the time, most of us suffer from this tendency to think negatively. This predisposition on the part of both parties leads to misunderstanding, which causes poor interactions and eventually damages relationships.
2. Lack of Responsiveness:
Many times we don’t respond because we don’t have a positive response. We don’t realize that a polite and appropriately contextualized negative response is much better than no response. Think of the times when a friend approached you for donating to a cause and you just avoided her, or when a co-worker asked for some information on something that wasn’t a top priority for you and took a long time to collect it. How did you respond, if at all? Many of us take the convenient option of ignoring. Nothing damages a relationship as quickly as non-responsiveness.
The old adage “Familiarity breeds contempt” has stood the test of time. It is inevitable and happens with professional as well as personal relationships. It is another major cause of relationship damage.
4. Lack of Respect:
Many times we inadvertently fall into the trap of thinking that as long as we like someone, and have affection for them, respect is optional. It is not! Nothing betrays a lack of respect more than criticism. Observe a person’s expressions the next time you criticize an idea or a suggestion from them. You will realize that you just dug a deep relationship hole that you will now have to climb out of.
Here are some vaccines to prevent these diseases:
There is no better relationship vaccine than putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. It is one thing to feel empathetic and another to express it. Make sure you do both.
One of the founders of Heartfulness Meditation, Shri Ram Chandra of Fatehgarh, said that no concept of high and low should be there. Someone who treats the janitor the same as the chairman of the board will always be respectful and respected.
The power of taking genuine interest in people cannot be appreciated enough. In the human condition, we all crave for social connection and affection, and nothing expresses this in a genuine and natural way more than simple interest. Try to notice on Monday morning when someone asks you about your weekend. Mostly this is done in a perfunctory manner with no interest, but some leaders will give your response their full attention and demonstrate real interest in you as a person. This is worth emulating.
Relationships are nurtured by investing time. Make it a discipline to meaningfully engage with everyone with whom you want to grow your relationships. Frequency matters more than duration. A 5-minute hallway chat every week is better than a lunch once every 6 months.
Relationships once damaged, are hard to mend, but not impossible. Here are some cures:
1. Sincere apology followed by action:
This is self-explanatory. Often a damaged relationship carries a sense of blame with it. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was. Even if you don’t accept responsibility for what went wrong, you can always accept responsibility for letting the relationship suffer. Start there and see what magic can happen.
2. Create opportunities to collaborate:
Especially when a relationship has gone cold due to lack of engagement, it can be re-energized by working together on something. Moving past likes and dislikes is also critical to making this fruitful.
3. Do a favor without expecting anything in return:
It often just takes one little gesture of goodwill, a small favor, a token of appreciation, and the relationship blossoms like a plant that has been ignored for a few days and suddenly received some much-needed water.
4. Ask for help:
Amazingly enough, when a relationship has been damaged, especially due to ego issues, asking the other person for help can often quickly mend it. Doing this automatically raises the other person and they will meet you in the middle.
Create a list of your two most important professional and personal relationships. Are any of these suffering from the diseases outlined above? If not, apply the vaccines recommended, and if so, apply the cures.
In subsequent articles we will look at how our behaviors lead to trust and relationships. We will also explore how, by managing our inner state, we can work inside out to effortlessly manage the cause and effect chain that leads to great influence and outcomes.