My alarm clock goes off every morning at 4:40AM, and I pile out of bed, pull on my workout clothes, and head to the gym for an hour of Boot Camp. Boot Camp is a workout class where a trainer coaxes every ounce of energy from our bodies. In addition to helping me lose weight and become fit, Boot Camp has taught me an important principle of leadership: the power of personal relationships.
There are several trainers that teach the class, but one of them is my favorite. There are several reasons why I like this trainer best. She knows the names of every person in the class. She always takes time to greet every individual personally. She took the time to learn my physical limitations. She even knows that I have a brand new grandson. I don’t believe it’s an accident that this trainer consistently has the most people in her class.
That’s not to say that the other trainers are bad or inadequate, because they aren’t. Every trainer on staff is qualified and runs a great class. But they haven’t taken the time to get to know me, and it just isn’t the same. The difference is in the relationship.
The power of personal relationships is a principle that all successful leaders, managers, and influencers must understand and leverage, because personal relationships are the currency leaders need in order to effectively lead. Many leaders mistakenly believe that just because they occupy the leader’s seat, people will naturally follow them. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly true. Leaders only really lead those who voluntarily follow, and without a meaningful, personal relationship with those you lead, you’re simply a placeholder occupying a desk and a title.
Leaders, bosses, and managers, remember this: crowds always follow a person before they ever follow the person’s plan. You might have the greatest vision since sliced bread, but if you don’t have sufficient relational capital, you can count on resistance when you introduce change or try to exert influence. Personal relationships develop trust, which is the foundation from which a leader leads. If people know and trust the heart of their leader, then they will follow, even if they don’t fully understand or even fully agree.
The owner of my gym has no idea who I am, nor do the vast majority of staff and trainers. But one trainer does, and that’s enough to keep me waking up every day at 4:40AM for an hour of Boot Camp. That’s the power of a personal relationship.