by Michael Holland

There comes a point in time when leaders begin to lead other leaders. They have several people below them who are guiding teams or departments of their own, and they can see the breadth of their empire spread out before them, with all their resources working together to achieve the goals set forth at the last leadership team retreat.

But what is really going on within these teams? Is everyone totally aligned around the goals? Are the employees working diligently? Are they fully engaged and giving all of their discretionary energy?

What tends to happen to leaders as they move up the ladder is that they forget the most basic of premises of leadership: relationships are built one employee at a time.

Leading well requires that you go back to the basics at every turn and build (or rebuild) relationships, one person at a time. It is through these relationships that you will earn the right to be a person’s leader. You will receive their permission to be led.

As these relationships form, you are weaving the fabric of the culture of an organization. Each relationship builds upon the others until ideally, you reach a critical tipping point where the culture of your team, department, or organization has tremendous momentum.

And it’s at exactly this point that great leaders separate themselves from average leaders. Average leaders feel good about this initial momentum and slack off, assuming the leaders below them will continue to build relationships.

Great leaders stay in man-to-man formation and continue to build the one-to-one relationships even after the tipping point is reached. And when it comes to great leadership, this makes all the difference.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Have you forgotten that you need permission from your employees in order to lead them?
    • Are there certain relationships that you could/should invest more time?
  • What does this statement mean to you: “Leading well requires that you go back to the basics at every turn.”?