When you boil it all down, leadership is essentially and primarily about relationships. At a certain point in your leadership journey, your leadership skills will become more important than your competency skills. You will always need to get things done, but as an effective leader it will increasingly become getting things done though others whom you trust, encourage and empower. Here are some awesome thoughts from Dan Rockwell on the role of relationships in leadership.


Originally posted by Dan Rockwell on June 1, 2014

It’s not “just” business.

The greatest “ship” in leadership is relationship.

The priority of relationship came home to me in a follow-up call with Bob Buford. Bob was mentored by Peter Drucker. Their mentoring relationship turned into a life-long friendship that he writes about in, Drucker & Me.

Bob explains nine things Peter did for me. But, when I asked which of the nine were most valuable, he paused and said, “None of them.”

The most important thing was having a relationship with Peter.

Bob valued the relationship, first.

Job one:

Leaders either drive results through power and authority or relationship. Both have their place.

Nothing is more important than building relationships – that drive results – with current and future leaders.

Every aspect of leadership is made better in the presence of strong connection.


  1. Move to connect. If you want people to connect with you, connect them. Begin by showing interest in their interests.
  2. Be really great at something. Weakness invites sympathy. Skill invites respect.
  3. Move first, when it comes to seeking the highest good of others.
  4. Give more than you take. Don’t be needy or greedy. Practice generosity.
  5. Be big; live wide. Pour energy into solving important issues. Make the world better.
  6. Be honest with compassion. Avoid defensiveness.
  7. Connect with those who desire connection. Don’t waste time forcing connections that aren’t mutual.
  8. Identify common goals and shared values. Shared values give connections value. Common goals establish common connection.
  9. Find mutual admiration. One-way relationships, may be necessary, but aren’t fulfilling, over time.
  10. Complain less. Press for progress, even if it’s small.

Bonus: Help people get where they want to go.

Relationships enrich, expand, and extend every aspect of leadership.

What qualities in you, draw others to you?