The Wheel of Modern Leadership Part 3: Relationship Building at Work

by Kira Bruno on November 15, 2023


Welcome back to our series on The Wheel of Modern Leadership. We covered communication in the last installment; this chapter, however, focuses on the art of relationship building at work and in our personal lives. I can attest to the power of good relationships, and in our interconnected world, the connections we make can define our personal and professional trajectories.

Building relationships is an art and a science. It demands more than superficial interactions—it requires depth, understanding, and most importantly, genuine care. Let’s get into some of the lessons I’ve learned about relationship building over the course of my career and see how they might apply to you.

Simple Attention & Listening

In our hyper-connected, digital-first era, the human touch often takes a backseat. However, relationship-building is inherently human. We need to get past our digital screens and connect like people. Whenever I walk into a room filled with professionals, I remind myself that every individual carries an inner world of experiences, hopes, and dreams.

Tuning into one person’s experience, even if just for a few moments, can forge a bond that stands the test of time. In fact, paying attention is a fundamental aspect of nurturing and communicating care in any relationship, making it a basic measure of respect that enhances the quality of the relationship.

Listening with your whole self can be transformative. It improves relationships by providing broader perspectives and fostering stronger bonds​. Think of it as the sustainable fuel source that powers your relationship-building efforts.

Investment Over Time

Quick fixes and instant gratification have become the norm. But meaningful relationships are built brick by brick, over time. As leaders, we must recognize the long-term value of these investments. After all, no matter how trivial, there’s a chance today’s casual conversation can become tomorrow’s strategic collaboration. But don’t force it—it’s okay for an important relationship to stay just that. Not everything should be a transaction.

Investing time and effort in relationships creates a strong foundation of trust and understanding, often leading to improved well-being and opening doors for more relationships​. The more you give, the more you get.

Personal Reflection

Introspection is a powerful tool. Before understanding others, we must understand ourselves. What drives us? What are our biases? What are our strengths and vulnerabilities? Armed with this self-awareness, we can approach relationships with authenticity and empathy, making genuine connections.

Reflecting on relationships helps you understand communication patterns while identifying areas for growth. It’s a great opportunity to build trust and intimacy​—in and out of the office.

Obligation and Necessity
In the modern maze of corporate connections, relationships are about more than just camaraderie. As previously mentioned, they each have the potential to become strategic assets. The right ones can open doors, drive innovation, and foster collaborations. We need to nurture these relationships and recognize the responsibilities they entail.

Understanding and fulfilling the obligations in relationships are crucial, and engaging with others is a business necessity that can improve internal workflows and yield better business results​​. After all, who wouldn’t want to do great work for someone with whom they feel a genuine connection?

Navigating Challenges

Relationships come with their fair share of challenges. Yet it’s these very challenges that test the strength of a bond. Navigating them with grace, understanding, and patience can strengthen a relationship into something more resilient than you first expected.

Relationships act as catalysts for change, requiring individuals to evolve and adapt, with effective communication leading to stronger bonds and greater resiliency. So the next time you’re confronted by a difficult conversation, be sure to focus on the relationship, not the result, and face it head-on with grace.

Relationship Building: A Self-Assessment

Relationship building comes down to recognizing the human being behind a professional title. As all of us work to become better leaders, let’s take time to gauge our own relationship-building abilities. Are we turning everything into a transaction or letting genuine relationships blossom over time? Are we stopping to listen with our whole selves or just trying to score points in the conversation?

Take a few moments this week to consider the relationships in your professional and personal life. And remember that either type should always feel genuine. As we pursue our goals in becoming modern leaders, let’s pledge to make relationship-building a cornerstone of our leadership style.

It’s time to build a relationship with Southern California recruiters who care. Take the first step by contacting FORTIS Resource Partners today.


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