Excerpt from The Art of Managing

Successful business relationships are built on honesty and emotional maturity. By developing good advocacy and inquiry skills and making progress of understanding and working on eliminating your shadow, your behaviors become more compassionate toward others. Personal mastery is not only working on Self, but also a willingness to get to know me.

The leaders I interviewed show patience and connectedness to others, including expecting no more or no less from others than they were willing to do, controlling their emotions by seeing the situation from others’ point of view, trusting others, being trustworthy, and being raised to treat people kindly and with humanity.

The leaders also demonstrated qualities of trusting; setting high expectations; caring for people; focusing on being open and meeting people’s unique needs; displaying a sense of fairness; using humor and vulnerability; being honest; having a strong value system; being personally involved; having a good sense of self; and modeling behavior they wanted others to follow. For example, one leader said, “Being able to express caring and trust toward others is rewarding and recognized by others who respond in like…People trust me because I trust them. I believe in their commitment and intelligence and ability to deliver.” Another said, “People tell me I’m incredibly patient…I like people…I’ve always liked people.”

Successful leaders demonstrate trust, integrity, and credibility, including leading by example, making people feel that everybody is equally important and that everything they do is significant. For example, one leader interviewed said, “Everything is significant, so don’t belittle or diminish anyone’s contribution.”

Leaders who have developed a deep caring for people are usually influenced by either parental role models and/or mentors. These role models genuinely care for people and treat them kindly and respectfully. For example, one leader said, “I guess I’d have to say my parents” when asked for his role models. After a pause, he said, “I was raised to respect everyone…to care for everyone.” Another leader said, “Of course, this is just the way that you were raised and the values that your family and church put on you.” These leaders respect and recognize the individual’s dignity.

Another critical part of caring is controlling emotions. Successful leaders are able to respond rather than react emotionally in emotionally charged situations. For example, several of those interviewed said that they developed patience early in life because losing one’s temper was not acceptable.

Others are able to step back and listen for understanding and assess what’s really going on. For example, one leader said, “The first thing that I’ve done is to always try to anticipate that if I were in the other person’s position why would I be behaving that way.” After a pause, he said, “Rational people make rational decisions…when people make irrational decisions, there is usually a reason or cause or events that are overwhelming them. I try to spend time to listen and understand what that is, because most of the time, there are ways you can pull the person back away from the emotional side of their position, so they can make rational decisions.” He then said, “People’s hidden and conflicting agendas sometimes cause behavior that you don’t want.” Leaders’ patience leads to their ability to communicate effectively by forming honest relationships of trust and credibility.

In 1997, Max DePree stated that success as human beings requires competence in relationships. Successful leaders help people move toward their potential and service by looking for the unique talents of people, accepting human authenticity, and giving people the opportunity to learn and grow.

Racial and sexual stereotyping and casual put-downs are so demeaning that it’s hard to believe the person saying these things really means it. Put-downs disrespect us as well as others. Our competitive nature keeps us jockeying for position, measuring where we stand, and assumes there is only a limited amount of rightness in the world. For a relationship whether at work or home, we must be self-respectful as well as respectful of one another. Caring is recognizing each other’s full and individual humanity.

It’s true that the more information we have about the world, the more clearly we understand what we don’t know. It is also true that we don’t need to learn anything at all in order to deal fairly with others and to walk gently in the world. The wisdom that we need is inside us. Instinct tells us how to treat others because we know how we want others to treat us, and we know that all people are one.

According to N. Southern, authentic relationships are built on understanding, shared values, truthfulness, and trust through communicative competence—reach new understanding and respect the rightness of another point of view. By respecting another point of view, we create an opportunity for a shared learning and authentic relationship that expresses genuine caring for others and life itself.

Forming honest relationships is important for successful leadership because a good leader must have help from others. Leaders can only lead through caring and compassion for others.