According to a recent Lifeline report, 60% of Australians report feeling lonely, 82% think loneliness is increasing and 33% don’t have anyone to confide in. This is a big problem when building strong mutually beneficial relationships is one of the key components to building a successful team and career.
Three Types of Relationships to Cultivate
Watching my daughter in the playground the other day, what strikes me as interesting is how easy it is for kids to form friendships. It would seem that as you get older, it may be harder to strike up strong friendships. So what does it really take to form a friendship? In the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Jeffrey Hall, professor of Communication Studies, suggested that it’s all about time we invest. His results showed that it takes 40 to 60 hours to form a casual friendship, 80 to 100 hours to be upgraded to being a friend, and about 200 hours to become “good friends”. It makes you think about what time you are investing in relationships both personally and professionally, doesn’t it?
ACTION: Consider how to make friendships a priority. Who do you know currently that you could cultivate a stronger friendship with just by putting aside some time to intentionally connect?
A mastermind is a group of people who commit to meeting on a regular basis to share their challenges and brainstorm solutions. It’s like a peer mentoring group. You help each other, promote each other, keep each other accountable, push each other to greater heights and share your journeys together.Perfect mastermind buddies are those at the same level as you, they display similar ambitions as well as character qualities e.g. reliable, motivated and dedicated.
ACTION: Host a gathering of people who are at similar levels in their career and brainstorm ways that you might be able to support each other to succeed.
These are the people who you admire, who have walked the path that you’re keen to take and who can share their experience and wisdom. Mentoring is one of the best professional development strategies you can implement. Do you make the most of mentoring?
Naomi Simson, founder of Red Balloon shared a technique she uses with mentors. Instead of asking the question ‘what should I do about..?’, she asks ‘tell me about a time when you had to…?’. Mentors are not there to solve your problems but a sounding board to talk through the issues and solutions until you reach the best pathway for you.
ACTION: Who could you reach out to? Consider your approach.
Kindness is Key
Relationships built on trust, respect and kindness are so helpful to our teams, careers, wellbeing and happiness. It can be the simplest of things that can create that sense of warmth and involvement. Recently, I contributed to a leadership program by coming in and sharing my story. As I entered the room to conduct my presentation, everyone was milling around in their break. I took the opportunity to circle the room beforehand to introduce myself, shake hands and find out where people worked and how they were finding the leadership program. When I received feedback from the organisers, I was flabbergasted at how such a small gesture could mean so much to people.
“I thought Alicia built respect by trying to, literally, introduce herself to all of us, made her feel relatable”.
At the heart of leadership, people are searching to be seen, heard, appreciated and connected. We can do this in many wonderful ways and yet when we become busy or stressed, we can forget to cultivate these connections. I’ve definitely learnt this from the incredible leaders who I’ve had the opportunity to witness and learn from and in the end, this is the type of leader I want to be. It’s realising that despite our challenges we are all humans that deserve kindness and respect. Think about how you can be an exceptional friend, team mate, colleague or manager to others too.