Board directors interact with groups and individuals that stem from many different facets of their board service. Board directors need to have good relationships with their peers, customers, vendors, executives, staff members, and other professionals and stakeholders.
Relationships aren’t always easy. Difficult challenges and poor communication are just a couple of issues that make it difficult to keep relationships healthy and thriving. Regardless of the surrounding circumstances, it’s important for board directors to be able to manage each of their relationships well. To manage their relationships well, board directors need the ability to inspire and influence others. They often need to be good problem-solvers, which can be challenging when it’s difficult to predict how people will respond or be able to work together.
Relationship management is an emotional intelligence skill that greatly benefits board directors. By developing this skill, board directors will be better able to connect with others in ways that assure them that they’ve been heard, understood and supported. Improved relationship management skills allow board directors to lead and oversee their organizations effectively. Relationship management is a skill that can be developed and improved, but it takes effort and intention.
Relationship Management Is a Core Domain of Emotional Intelligence
Relationship management is a core domain of emotional intelligence and it consists of four domains, or basic capabilities. They include self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness and relationship management.
How aware are you of the effect others have on you? Can you trace your feelings back to what others were feeling and what led them to their emotions that caused you to feel as you do?
Your answers are the key to understanding better how to interact with others to get the best outcome for both parties. Once you understand how people feel and why they feel that way, it puts you in the best position to make a decision about how to interact with them. Taking this approach will also give you a good indication of how they’ll respond to you.
When you don’t get the response that you thought you’d get, it gives you a chance to be more self-aware of the impact that it’s going to have on you. Then you have choices to make about how you can manage yourself appropriately in light of the situation.
Obviously, it takes conscious thought and effort to be able to think all of this through. The more often that you make it a practice, the easier it will become. At some point, it will become second nature. Working to improve relationship management makes the process intentional and helps you to get the desired outcome. The desired outcome will be driven by your needs or the needs of your business at any given time.
Understanding the Competencies of Relationship Management
The competencies of relationship management are often associated with leadership. They’re also important for individuals who just want to improve all relationships in their lives by making personal change.
It takes being somewhat inquisitive and discovering people’s values and desires for leaders to find ways to inspire and motivate others. When leaders can use this skill in a way that also aligns with the needs of the business, they’re on the way to achieving great things. Great leaders with strong relationship management skills use empathy, combined with other relationship skills, to encourage trust from others and be able to build on it.
According to Daniel Goleman, author and science journalist, the competencies that are associated with relationship management are:
- Influence: persuading others.
- Inspirational leadership: providing a vision that motivates others.
- Developing others: providing feedback and building skills and knowledge.
- Change catalyst: recognizing the need for change and supporting the process.
- Conflict management: Settling disputes, differences of opinion and misunderstanding.
- Building bonds: creating and maintaining networks.
- Teamwork and collaboration: building effective teams.
Be aware that your interactions with others must be honest, ethical and genuine. When working on improving relationship management, this isn’t the place to “fake it until you make it.” If people feel that you are being disingenuous in any way, they will mistrust you and that will be incredibly difficult to overcome.
Dealing with Resistance to Change
The biggest hurdle to get over in working on managing relationships is recognizing that you need to make the change and giving it the time, effort and attention that it demands. When you start to make progress in this area, you may begin to feel some resistance from others who are used to having a different kind of relationship with you. If this happens, don’t get discouraged. Stick with it and know that the work that you’re putting into it will eventually build strength in you and in your relationships.
Strong leaders will be able to effectively communicate the need for relationship-building and demonstrate support for it. Strong communication will help to overcome any resistance to change.
Modern Governance Requires the Right Skills and the Right Tools
Board directors face pressures from many angles in their quest to fulfill their board duties responsibly. Relationship skills are an important part of their job. Fortunately, relationship management skills can be developed with education, training and personal commitment. The benefit of enhancing board relationship is that it reduces feelings that others may be attacking you. By virtue of not having to deal with those types of emotions, it will better inform your responses.
Certain board relationships require confidentiality, such as conversations with other board directors, members of management and committee members. In addition to relationship skills, board directors need to take advantage of digital governance tools to give a boost to their professional relationships. BoardEffect is the board management platform that allows boards to work smarter. It answers the direct board management needs of organizations with different structures, missions and goals.
BoardEffect enables board directors to be better communicators and collaborators while fueling efficiency at every turn. Supporting a modern approach to governance, BoardEffect helps board leaders make informed decisions to power better outcomes. BoardEffect and better board relationships are a team that can’t be beat!