I recall working with a client many years back who was the salt-of-the-earth kind of guy. He was heartfelt and easy-going, loved to personally connect with others, speaking gently and purposefully.
On my drive to his office, I would purposefully slooooooow down my brain and demeanour to more effectively connect with him, which worked perfectly. Instead of my running in and rattling off MY agenda for the next few hours, I would get into his space: listening, asking questions and genuinely connect with him prior to getting to the work side of things.
He was also a man who disliked conflict and hard conversations. While his natural disposition was to “keep the peace” at any cost, it came at a cost with his leadership effectiveness undermined by this one trait. His people walked all over him, did what they wanted when they wanted. The workforce was highly unproductive; reflected a bunch of self-centred individuals and job errors were everywhere. Yet, he feared to address the issues. Peacekeeping, in this environment, didn’t work.
This was one of my early, on-the-ground relational and leadership lessons.
Relational. In order to connect well and communicate in a way that he heard it, I had to reflect his behavioural style in our meetings. This way, we got on the same page and arrived there quickly.
Leadership. Each person in our organisation is at a different place and need to be led differently. If I lead from a singular style, my effectiveness is going to be severely limited.
I have come to firmly believe that the more self-aware we are, the more other-aware we become and it’s from this “other-awareness” and the adaption of our relational and leadership styles to who the person is and what they require, that our effectiveness is significantly enhanced.