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When considering their own leadership development, it’s easy to focus on task-oriented areas of growth. But effective leadership requires more than functional skills. Today’s leaders also need to be skilled at nurturing professional relationships. Where task-based leadership involves functional areas of performance like productivity, goal setting, and time management, relationship-oriented leadership is focused on building rapport with their co-workers, employees, clients, and business partners. Below, we’ll look at four relationship-based leadership skills shared by successful managers and CEOs.

Self-awareness

The ability to identify one’s own emotions and understand how these emotions impact others around them is one of the hallmarks of a great leader. This self-awareness allows leaders to assess their own behavior and identify and identify sources of conflict. They can then use this awareness to develop strategies for managing conflicts and interpersonal relationships. Training initiatives focused on motivation, stress reduction, and time management can help leaders develop this critical skill.

Empathy

Many people assume that empathy is a fixed personality trait, but it is possible to improve this leadership skill with practice. In fact, it is estimated that 20 percent of U.S. employers now offer empathy training as part of their leadership development initiatives. Increased empathy in the workplace is associated with increased employee engagement, improved performance, and an enhanced customer experience. 

Interpersonal Skills

Good leadership is about inspiring people and motivating them to perform to the best of their abilities. This requires a leader to not only an understand of the abilities, limitations, and needs of others, but also to tailor their own responses based on this understanding. Those who are skilled at recognizing the feelings and motivations of others are able to better anticipate and meet the needs of clients and employees, which in turn helps foster an atmosphere of collaboration, conflict management, and team work.

Delegation

While a leader should be skilled at negotiation, he or she also needs to be comfortable making decisions and delegating tasks to others. Relationship-oriented leaders delegate not only with team development goals in mind, but also the goals of the organization as a whole. They understand that setting clear expectations, providing timely feedback, and rewarding employees for their work helps build confidence in others, which leads to increased team productivity and a healthier bottom line.

Leadership is most effective when a balance is achieved between task-oriented and relationship leadership styles. While it’s important for a leader to be able to perform their work tasks, developing the four relationship-based leadership skills above are necessary to ensuring long-term career success.

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