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Leaders: knowing how to handle acquaintances, friends and lovers

Do you know who needs to be treated like trusted lovers, just friends or passing acquaintances? Successful leaders know how to manage the level of intimacy required to cultivate a range of relationships.

Technology, especially with the advent of social media (Facebook LinkedIn, etc.), and search (Google, etc.) has made work life far more intimate than ever before. We know a lot more about each other as co-workers, customers, friends, vendors, bosses than ever before. How good are you at handling intimacy? Knowing and reacting appropriately to the level of intimacy required in your team, in your network is a very new skill for most people. It is especially critical for leaders to get it right. If not, what you see are two dysfunctional extremes:

1. people who use this new found intimacy to start rumors and gossip incessantly, or;
2. people who are paralyzed by intimacy and ignore elephants sitting in the room.

Leaders can help their staff and teams avoid these two extremes by modeling a range of behaviors needed for relationship management. What does that look like? Here are some of the behaviors good relationship leaders do…

  • manage conflict productively and avoid getting sucked into taking sides, gossiping, alienating others
  • actively listen to others
  • know when to use technology to communicate and when to use face-to-face interaction
  • give thoughtful and helpful feedback so you, in return, will get quality feedback
  • handle difficult conversations productively; you are able to reject the idea or behavior without rejecting the other person so communication stays intact
  • use confrontation effectively
  • willingly reveal feelings and willingly show vulnerability; admit that you don’t know everything

Being good at managing relationships is critical to building a successful leadership presence. People who have effective relationships can influence others. And isn’t that what leadership is really all about — influencing others to achieve goals?

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