Qualities of a Leader:
Developing Relationships that Produce Results
Motivating Self-Improvement: Part Two
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In this series, we will be examining how to motivate and realize self-improvement in your personal leadership skills, relationships, communication skills, and learning strategies.
Many of the abilities we label as entrepreneurial skills are just as applicable in our personal lives as they are in our business related roles. We have already provided an outline for building a personal development plan that actually works, by motivating and driving results in the areas of your life you are trying to develop. Today, we want to focus on an equally practical topic…relationships.
Regardless how you classify it, the ability to build genuine, cooperative, and result-producing relationships is an invaluable quality of a leader and can separate an effective entrepreneur from other professionals.
Are you frustrated from investing large amounts of effort into building customer and B2B relationships, yet continuing to realize a lack of results, responses, and engagement from those relationships?
Do you envy the people who don’t seem to try nearly as hard as you do, yet appear to draw others in and elicit willing engagement?
We have been studying, interviewing, and curating content from great leaders in an effort to understand how they build these types of two-way relationships and we have great news! Developing these interpersonal skills is not dependent on whether or not you were born with an elusive “charisma” gene.
We have put together some of the best steps we see work in our own relationships and some tips from other successful entrepreneurs for building business relationships that promote workplace collaboration and engagement, whether as a leader, coworker, or employee.
In this post, you will find:
- How to improve self-confidence first, so that you can build others’ confidence in you
- Practical and easily applicable steps for producing genuine relationships that will boost:
- Good communication skills
- People management skills
- Collaboration in the workplace
- Self-confidence in leadership (and others’ confidence!)
- FREE daily checklist of 5 practical tasks for maintaining and growing business relationships
How To Improve Self-Confidence
Before you begin attempting to convince customers, coworkers, and employees to place their confidence in you, you must first have confidence in yourself. No confidence is either quickly made apparent or it is masked with an over-compensating persona. This persona will put off others by either appearing arrogant or ignorant.
We have consolidated a few of the most effective steps you can take to build your self-confidence in a way that those around you can see.
Define your role
Not only will the stress of pushing yourself to take on a role you are not equipped for damage your performance, but it will most likely wreck your self-confidence. Adjust your expectations of yourself and make sure you shape others expectations from the beginning.
Have you committed to a position you now realize you are not prepared for? Approach your boss and explain how they can help provide the resources and training to allow you to fill the role more adequately.
When you are confident in your ability to fill a position, those around you will trust you more and you will be better able to remain focused and committed when tough circumstances arise.
Now, we are not saying you should not push yourself to grow. Just ensure your expectations for yourself are realistic and you have a clearly defined plan on how to achieve the desired growth.
Embrace your strengths…AND your weaknesses
This goes hand in hand with defining your role. We are often our own worst critics. Give yourself credit for the things you do well!
Instead of attempting to work tirelessly at turning your weaknesses into adequate abilities, focus on developing your strengths into exceptional abilities. A good leader knows they are not always right, values others’ input, and is willing to delegate. Find someone who excels in the areas you struggle and rely on them to fill those gaps.
Let me put it this way: if you rated all your skills on a scale from 1 to 10 and you could only improve each skill 3 points, would you rather turn a 2 into a 5, or turn a 7 into a 10?
Do not be an average jack of all trades. Be an exceptional specialist.
Accept that you will not always be right
Gather as much data as you can, delegate, and rely on your trusted advisers/employees. Once you have done your due diligence, COMMIT!
This does not mean that you won’t admit a defeat or mistake when it is realized. It may sound counter-intuitive, but you must accept that you can fail in order to build self-confidence. You accept the possibility of failure without fearing it.
Complex business decisions often do not have a “right” or “wrong” response. There may be multiple logical responses to a particular situation.
If an outcome proves to be less than desirable, take responsibility, learn, and move forward.
If you want to be a leader who drives others, you must lead with confidence and not fear failure, without claiming to be infallible.
Always seek opportunities for continual learning
Want to build self-confidence? Grow!
Read a book related to your field by someone successful you admire, subscribe to the blog of an industry leader, or take a class on a topic you are interested in.
Surround yourself with successful leaders
This is very closely related to continual learning, but it is such an important step, we felt the need to emphasize it separately. One of the most universal pieces of advice from successful entrepreneurs and leaders is to surround yourself with those you want to be like.
Not only will observing and being near these people help you grow your abilities in your field, your ability to build relationships with those who have achieved the success you are seeking will increase your self-confidence. Realizing that those you admire are human, too, helps make success appear more attainable.
Building Business Relationships that Produce Results
Tired of spending hours building business relationships, only to see non-existent results and a fizzling engagement rate? We have put together some of the best steps for building business relationships from our own experience and a few of the top entrepreneurial leaders.
We’ll start with a few of the steps we have already covered.
If you want to jump to the daily activity checklist for building successful relationships, scroll to the bottom and enter your email.
Be willing to not always be right
Nearly all of us have experience with someone who always has to be right, have the last word, or demonstrate their knowledge in whatever topic is being discussed. While we understand the desire to appear as a knowledgeable and valuable asset, it is important to recognize that taking this too far can be off-putting.
Instead of feeling the need to interrupt a client or partner with the “correct answer” or overtaking the conversation with your “superior knowledge,” work to add to their input and knowledge while showing value for what they are bringing to the table. Try phrases such as:
- “What you are saying is so true. I have also found ‘such and so’ to work when combined with that strategy.”
- “I love your mindset behind that and I have used that strategy many times in the past. Lately, I have seen even more success by taking it in this direction.”
If someone does not feel their input is valued, or they feel the other person is arrogant, they will not engage in that relationship.
Encourage their strengths…AND weaknesses.
Encouraging someone’s strengths shows them that you value what they bring and builds trust.
Encouraging someone to improve upon their weaknesses, or showing them how they can delegate those tasks, without being overbearing, shows them that you are invested in their success and are truly seeking to understand them, their needs, desires, and pain points.
Always seek opportunities for continual learning
Constantly seeking opportunities for growth makes you an inspiring person to be around, a valuable resource, and contributes towards those around you to feel you are worthy of respect.
Notice what matters to them
Want to build a successful business relationship that has a high level of engagement and produces results? Make it a personal relationship.
Too often we treat business relationships as a science, or something to be hacked, instead of realizing that people engage more with those who treat them as a person, instead of an opportunity.
Put the notes section in your contacts manager to use! Keep track of your contacts interests, birthdays, vacations, etc. Ask them about it when you see them. Even better…buy them a small, personalized gift related to their interests.
Find out what they want to accomplish for their business, but do not ignore the fact that they also have personal interests, motivations, and events.
Find shared goals
The operative word here is “shared.” Do not try to force something, especially if it is a potential customer. They will usually be able to tell if you are feigning excitement in order to get an “in” with them.
Instead, whether a coworker, business partner, or potential customer, work to find either a section of business you are both invested in, or a non-work project you are both passionate about and get involved.
Have NO expectations
Expectations for contracts, partnerships, and projects are necessary. However, if your goal is to build up the relationship behind those transactions, then you must approach that relationship with no expectations.
No one wants to feel used, or as if they are only being engaged with so you can push them through a funnel. View each person as an individual, not as a potential business transaction or benefit.
Offer before you ask
Once you understand what matters to those you are trying to build relationships with, you can work to find ways to come along side them in their efforts. Most of the time, you should not deliver your “ask” or pitch immediately after you offer them some help. Are you making a trade, or are you building a relationship?
If it is a trade, then make it clear. However, if you are offering your assistance without expecting to get a sale or any reciprocation, then make sure you keep your “pitch” separate.
People are often not as committed to a decision or purchase when they feel obligated and may take the first excuse or opt-out given if this is the case.
Be willing to sacrifice
Want someone to be committed to a relationship? Be committed to them. One of the best ways to show you have a genuine interest in them and have some skin in the game is with a willingness to sacrifice something for the relationship.
Start by being willing to:
- sacrifice your desire to be right. Hear them out and show you value their input by evaluating what they have to say, even if it goes against your opinion.
- sacrifice your pride. If you have acted poorly or made a mistake, take responsibility.
- take the hit. A leader does not point fingers or pass blame. They take responsibility and work to move things forward. We are not advocating you cover up or lie for anyone else, but you will never build a great relationship by throwing someone under the bus.
Recognize that Facebook is not networking
Do not make the mistake of thinking that posting a status update counts as networking. You need to be engaging with your relationships on an individual basis.
Comment on their Facebook status update.
Reply to their tweet.
Send them an email.
Grab lunch with them.
Do not neglect offline networking. Connect with your relationships offline at least once every month or two, even if that means writing a handwritten note.
Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” This goes beyond noticing what matters to them, but also working to understand and relate with their fears, pain points, and desires. Shape your interactions and responses by placing yourself in their shoes.
For your investors, work to empathize with their need to see a ROI.
For your customers, work to empathize with the problem they are trying to solve when they elicit your help.
For your employees, coworkers, and partners work to empathize with what motivates them professionally and personally.
✓ Learn ways to connect with your relationships more effectively
✓ Techniques to continually grow relationships
✓ Find ways to get involved with your relationships.
You can download the checklist by clicking here
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