LEAD ON // Earning Your Position


Why would anyone want to follow you? Why do people follow you?

Do they do it because you have earned it, or do they do it out of positional deference?

You are fooling yourself if you think the old “do it because I said so” is still effective.
Leadership in organizations today is shifting from positional deference (I follow you only because you have the title of ‘boss’; my loyalty to you is low) to relational capital (I follow you because you know who I am and we both support each other in being successful; my loyalty is high).  Leaders who intentionally shift their mindsets and behaviors to include building meaningful relationships with their people are experiencing the biggest returns, both in productivity and creativity.

Building relationships with the people on your team doesn’t mean having beers after work or buying cupcakes (although some would argue these are good things too). What it does mean is an increased, intentional effort to deepen your understanding of who the people on your team are, and what they need from you. Building relationships is no longer a “soft skill” of early management theory; rather it is a foundational leadership competency for modern management and leadership.

Here is a list of 5 simple, practical, things you can implement with your team right away:

•    Investment Mindset: Coach yourself and consider what it takes to be an effective, respected leader that people want to follow. Shift your mindset to viewing people and relationships as an investment in the future of your business and the future of your effectiveness as a leader. Relationships invested in today will yield both short and long-term results. Relationships ignored will limit long-term results.

•    Use the Margins of Your Day: Use the margins of your day (before meetings, after meetings, walking around the office, coffee breaks, etc.) to intentionally slow down, and connect with people in your office and on your team. Show up for meetings early to form those connections. Walk back to your office or cubicle with someone versus bolting out of the meeting alone.

•    Hide Your Screens: When you are in a meeting, or in a 1:1 meeting, put your screens away. Turn your phone off or turn it over; don’t let incoming messages and auditory signals be a distraction. Turn off your computer. Don’t meet in a location where you can see your computer/emails. If you use your IPad or laptop to take notes, turn off email notifications. This will help you stay focused on the conversation and relationship. For some of you, I would recommend wearing a watch again (remember those?). If you solely rely on your phone as your timepiece, then you are looking at your phone more often than you should, which again, creates distraction and lack of focus on the relationship.

•   P-I-T: Personal-Interpersonal-Task. Practice starting conversations by connecting personally and interpersonally first before you move on to a task. A personal connection is as simple as inquiring about the other person’s personal interests (hobbies, family, work accomplishments). An interpersonal connection is related to things you have in common (the meeting you both went to last week, or a shared outside interest). After you have connected personally/interpersonally, then you move to the task at hand.  This type of connection will take you 2 minutes or less.

•    Ask for Feedback: Ask your direct reports or colleagues: What can I Keep Doing/Stop Doing/ Start Doing, to be a better boss/leader/colleague to you? This one requires you to be open and accepting of the feedback. If you get defensive at the feedback, you will decrease your relational capital very quickly. If you don’t get any responses to these questions, it may be symptomatic of people being fearful or uncertain about what you will do with the feedback.

A few small actions, spent in the margins of your day, are a low risk investment considering the potential returns. Knowing that your role as a leader is dynamic and shifting will help you adapt to the new and emerging needs of your business and the workforce you depend on so greatly.

Grow Your leaders, Propel Your Business
Dr. Shanna Teel & Company

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