The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you build authentic relationships at work? is by Kyle Wong, CEO of Pixlee.
One of the most powerful ways to create a successful office culture is to encourage leaders to build authentic relationships with their employees. Today’s leaders are more than just bosses; they help mold a company culture into something that people want to be a part of. So it’s no surprise that authenticity is one the greatest leadership assets required to do this. The best teams are able to rely on one another as people, not just as colleagues. In fact, building authentic relationships with co-workers is not very different from building relationships with family or friends. They generally consist of three factors: self-awareness, empathy, and consistency. These relationships not only create a supportive work environment, but they also become a competitive advantage for your company.
Every employee brings different strengths and skills to the table. This is even more true in startups where employees are expected to wear multiple hats. Regardless of your experience or title, it’s important to acknowledge that you, as a leader, also have strengths and weaknesses. A leader with vulnerabilities is stronger than one that insists on having none. There are two ways leaders can demonstrate this type of self-awareness: admitting when you’re wrong and being transparent about your weaknesses. When employees notice that their leader is self-aware, they will replicate it and feel encouraged to be their most authentic selves.
In any relationship, strong connections between people require a great deal of empathy. Everyone wants to feel heard. Employees have a variety of vantage points, with different working styles and personalities. So being able to understand and empathize with those around you goes a long way in forming authentic relationships. Jeff Weiner, CEO of (lnkd) Linkedin, is a leader who uses empathy particularly well. Watch how he addresses his team after their recent earnings announcement and stock drop.
Relationships are constantly evolving; and one strong impression does not equal an authentic relationship. Consistency and reliability are arguably the two most important qualities of authentic relationships. Great leaders follow through and build trust with their employees day in and day out. In other words, leaders don’t get to take a day off from being their ‘most authentic’ self.