How to Develop Relational Currency

Relationships are the biggest secret to success.

I have seen so many leaders miss opportunities to develop relational currency when they become too focused on tasks and producing. Learning to develop your relational skills greatly impacts your influence as a leader. Many times, opportunities for valuable relationships are right in front of you. It just takes time and investment.

Here are three ways to develop relational currency:

1. Invest in relationships

Focus on building relationships instead of only “networking.” Shaking someone’s hand and giving them your business card is not as valuable as a conversation. Connections are created through shared experiences. Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” An executive may meet many people throughout the day, but if you connect on a personal level and have a meaningful conversation, you won’t be forgotten.

When you create connections based on shared interests and goals, you will become more successful at your job. Why? People want to work with people they know and enjoy being around. Be intentional about connecting with others and keeping up with those relationships. Consistency is key. This can be as simple as setting up a call or sending an encouraging message.

2. Collaborate with your team

Over the years, I’ve worked with many gifted leaders, and one thing I’ve learned is: No matter how smart, creative and talented a leader may be, he or she can’t transform an organization without the help of others. A recent study by McKinsey Global Institute found that 97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project. However, collaboration remains one of the most underrated and underutilized workplace tactics.

Collaboration is an essential ingredient for organizational success. NFL coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Collaboration helps you solve problems more effectively, while boosting team morale. Online tools have opened up new channels for communication, making team collaboration easier than ever before. Make sure you are utilizing these valuable tools.

3. Diversify your connections

When most people think of diversifying connections, they think about age, gender, or race. But diversity is also about mindset. You can choose to learn something from everyone you meet. Connections with people outside of your day-to-day world can bring many advantages. Respect for the differences of others must be placed at the center of all relationships. It fosters respect and value for people. If you don’t listen, you’ll never understand where someone else is coming from. And understanding someone else’s view builds productive relationships.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that, when challenged with a difficult problem, groups composed of highly adept members performed worse than groups whose members had varying levels of skill and knowledge. This demonstrates the power of diverse thinking. When you welcome different perspectives, you open up the door to new ideas that would otherwise be ignored.

It really doesn’t matter what you know, or all you’ve accomplished. If you don’t value connecting with others, then whatever you accomplish will be limited in scope and definition. We need others to help us reach our goals and walk in the calling God has placed on our lives. It’s vital that people rediscover the basic building block of leadership and life— relationships with people.