5 Builds Relationships

“You can take my factories, burn up my buildings, but give me my people and I'll build the business right back again.”

—Henry Ford

Building relationships is a competency at which many of our Real Women, Real Leaders excel. An empathetic trait, the ability to build coalitions, strengthen ties, and foster mutual respect and understanding has served our leaders well. This chapter shows how the ability to connect with people across demarcation lines has been one of the most important aspects of authentic leadership for women in positions of power.

Building a strategic network within and outside of an organization is also referred to as “building social capital.” Women are strong in building supportive and strategic relationships. In a white paper on leadership by Shambaugh Leadership LLC, they state: “Think of a strategic network as a connected web of relationships versus a traditional organization chart. This web should be broad, deep, and diverse. This includes direct reports, peers, and executives in the organization, as well as people outside the organization who can give us the right advice and support our needs throughout our careers.”

These traits are often ascribed to female leaders, but their importance for all leaders is highlighted in research. Many individuals in positions of power tend to shy away from these critical behaviors, but building an emotional connection is the foundation upon which many of the other competencies rely, and they can be ...

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