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Relationship Excellence: 9 Steps to Providing Relationship Leadership

Leaders in paramilitary organizations may be tempted to rely on their authority or position to get the results they want. Especially in times of emergency, it may be easy to forget that people are human beings, not machines that can be switched on and off or respond in an instant. Yet an authoritarian leadership tends to engender compliance rather than commitment in stakeholders.

Exceptional leaders know they can be most effective when they exercise their personal power. They invest time and effort in cultivating trust-based relationships. In so doing, they develop the credibility that enables others to follow without hesitation and to give them the benefit of the doubt when necessary.

Here are nine tips that will help you enhance your personal power by building commitment-based relationships with your stakeholders.

  1. To frame or change a conversation, ask purposeful questions that send people in the direction you want them go to search for answers.
  2. Provide at least three viable options for action so others can feel they have a choice in the decision process.
  3. Act consistently to increase the level of trust. Even when people don’t agree with you, knowing where you stand will enhance the relationship.
  4. Clearly identify in advance what decision-making process you'll use in a given situation. This will minimize the likelihood of resentment or surprises.
  5. Be truthful about what you can and can't do to increase credibility. Those who make unrealistic promises harm the relationship and break the trust.
  6. Do what you say you'll do. When you can't do what you promised, let the others involved know and tell them why and what you'll do about it.
  7. Meet others where they are in terms of understanding, and help them get to where you need or want them to be; do not assume they can see things from your perspective.
  8. Distinguish clearly between wants (nice to have) and needs (must have); be flexible with the former and treat the latter as non-negotiable.
  9. To convey a consistent message, make sure your language, tone of voice and body language are aligned with your intended meaning.
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