Leadership is the Relationship

Leadership is an ongoing relationship between the leader and superiors, leaders and colleagues, leaders and consumers, and especially between leaders and followers. This intangible notion we call leadership most often refers to the interaction of the leader and the follower. This interaction should not be thought of in terms of us and them. Followers are allies who join the leader, and together create the synergy that drives organizations. “Because the personal relationship defines the existing quality of interpersonal interaction between the leader and would-be followers, followers will not join the leader without the requisite relationship. Leadership is the relationship.” (Blank, 1995, p. 12).

Leaders require many skills in managing relationships. Not just followers but with all the stakeholders, including superiors, peers, and external constituents. “Relationship behavior is the extent to which the leader engages in two-way or multi-way communication. It includes listening, encouraging, facilitating, providing clarification, and giving socio-emotional support.” (Bolman and Deal, 1997: 300). The purpose of the relationship is to give each person the opportunity to grow and to contribute to his or her fullest potential and build strengths in the midst of differences.

Blank, Warren. (1995). The 9 Natural Laws of Leadership. New York, New York: AMACOM Books.

Bolman, Lee G. and Deal, Terrence E. (1997). Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series.

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