Why Good Leaders Do Not Have Efficient Relationships It is critical that everyone on your team feels valued, and this is never achieved through efficiency.

By Jason Zickerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Business owners are constantly pounded with advice and suggestions on what they should and shouldn't be doing to build a successful organization. They hear industry experts like me talk about the importance of key business issues like productivity, vision and all kinds of operational and strategic approaches. Sure, these are crucial areas to master when growing a business. But I dare say that on a scale of importance, all these topics pale compared to something much more obvious and yet often elusive — building and fostering relationships.

There is no how-to guide or infographic that dictates the process of creating a connection with the people who surround you in your business. While the industry is almost entirely focused on fine-tuning processes to allot for the least amount of engagement, I learned something from a valued colleague of mine a long time ago. When it comes to relationships, never try to be efficient.

Think about all the people in your life and the relationships you have with them. Specifically, I want you to reflect on the good relationships you truly value. Are those associations sometimes complicated? I bet. Are they dynamic? I hope so. Are they based on efficient conversation and modulated engagement? No way.

How do you interact with your team?

For your employees to perform at their best and flourish in your organization, they need to feel seen by you and other members of your leadership team. They need to know their voices are being heard and recognized. And they need to believe that you, as the business owner, truly care about their well-being and have their best interests in mind. It is critical that everyone on your team feels valued and that their contributions are appreciated by you and throughout the entire business.

And none of this — and I mean absolutely none — is ever achieved through efficiency.

Think about all the interactions you participate in throughout your day as a business owner. Now if I were a betting man, I would wager that the way you interact with your receptionist is vastly different than the engagement you enjoy with your key leadership team. In many ways, it is only natural to have a more dynamic relationship with those in your inner circle. But here's the thing. That receptionist — or IT engineer or warehouse stocker or salesperson — likely has your best interests at heart as much as your management team does.

Arguably, they are also as key to your success as anyone else in your organization. And they often have wonderful opinions, ideas and innovations if you would only take the time to connect and engage with them at a meaningful level.

Related: Who Is More Important — Your Customers or Your Employees?

Efficiency thwarts engagement

When we, as business leaders, are efficient in how we interact with our team members, we are more than likely not creating an environment in which we really get to know our employees as people, not just contributors. And if we want to talk efficiencies, employees who are disengaged, underappreciated and lack connection are quantifiably less productive than those who feel valued and whose voices are considered.

Related: 5 Proven Tools for Developing Strong Relationships as an Entrepreneur

Creating connection with your team

Building meaningful relationships throughout your business doesn't need to be challenging. For the most part, any effort in cultivating those connections is time and effort well spent.

I have made it a point to nurture the relationships I have throughout my organization. I carve out time for regular in-person chats or calls with our entire staff – from the admin who answers the phone to the accounting team working the numbers and everyone in between. And I don't discuss business with them! Rather, we talk about their interests, passions, or anything else that's going on in their lives, as long as it's appropriate.

Related: Leadership is Not Just About Designation - 6 Traits that Make You a True Leader

These are not texts. These are not emails. These are substantive opportunities for connection that fall beyond formality and process. And these wonderful, personal, perhaps nonlinear connections result in a more committed, better engaged and ultimately more productive team.

Listen. Nobody wants to feel like a cog, so demonstrate to your entire team how much you value them by communicating on an individual and meaningful level. These inefficient relationships will not only help fill the emotional tanks of your employees but yours as well.

Wavy Line
Jason Zickerman

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO of The Alternative Board | Business Development and Growth Advisor

Jason Zickerman is the President and CEO of The Alternative Board, an international organization helping business owners and their leadership teams improve business and change lives.

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