Relationships Matter!

David Ivers is from Sydney, Australia. He is a qualified Primary and Secondary School Teacher. In total, he has served on school leadership teams for 16 years in senior leadership roles.
The 4th of July is Independence Day in the United States of America. Having experienced the celebrations first hand on July 4, 2014 in Washington DC, it would be fair to say that it was more than a celebration of Independence. It was also a celebration of culture, of beliefs and of values. In the background of history though, the 4th of July is also of significance for another reason, to Americans and Australians, especially in 2018. The 4th of July 2018 was the Centenary of the Battle of Hamel in 1918. This was a battle under the command of Australian General Sir John Monash and was the first time that Australian and American soldiers fought shoulder to shoulder as Allied Forces, in a battle that lasted 93 minutes. As the Chief of the Australian Defence Force, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell notes.

“The battle was the first time Australians operated closely with our US allies. We have served alongside the US in every major conflict since.”

For the United States, it is, according to Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, historical for one other reason:

“Recognition of valour wasn’t confined to the Australians. The first US Army Medal Of Honor in World War One was awarded to Corporal Thomas Pope of the US 131st Infantry Regiment, (Illinois National Guard), for his actions during the battle.”

Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, AO, DSC Chief of Australian Defence Force Designate. Centenary of the Battle of Hamel Oration. Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 6.10pm Wednesday 4th July 2018. From:

What this reminds us of is that at the basis of Leadership, at the basis of our success in our careers, at the basis of almost any form of human endeavour, are high quality relationships. Our professional relationships can impact our personal relationships in both a positive and a negative manner. The opposite is also true.

It is important to be resilient and to realize that as part of a team, collaboration is important.

At the heart of quality relationships is trust. That said, we are talking here about professional workplace relationships and with that in mind, it needs to be observed that personal disclosure should often remain exactly that, personal. Much has been written about what is required for quality Professional Relationships. Certified Executive Advisor and Leadership Development Consultant, Dr. Terry Jackson suggests that there are “7 Principles for Developing Quality Relationships”. Paraphrased, they are:

  1. Acceptance.

This is acceptance of others but importantly, acceptance of self as well.

  1. Respect.

Again, this involves the respect of self and others and that others have a job to do also.

  1. Understanding.

Always seek to understand others, as well as yourself. What is the other’s viewpoint?

  1. Transparent.

At the heart of a good relationship are openness and honesty. At the heart of good Governance is transparency.

  1. Non-Judgment.

It is important not to be judgmental of others. Each person is gifted with a variety of talents. No doubt they will vary from your own. Don’t judge because someone does it differently to you. There is a subtle difference between this and evaluating their performance and their deliverable.

  1. Empowerment.

Just as you feel empowered, your example can liberate and empower others in your team. Simply, it means, lead by example.

  1. Trust.

This has to permeate all that we do. To operate from any other perspective means you can never be sure of where the other person is coming from or find yourself asking if there is a hidden agenda in what they say or do. To not work from trust is to be negative, even destructive and is likely to lead you to be judgemental and less respectful.

An overarching principle that Dr. Jackson names is that “communication is a shared responsibility.”

See: Dr. Terry Jackson “7 Principles for Developing Quality Relationships” From:

Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca Merrill in ‘First Things First” observed that at the heart of any relationship with our self and with others are 4 needs that should be integrated with each other in order to develop ‘the fire within’. The 4 needs identified by Covey and Merrill are circular and are Spiritual needs, Mental needs, Social needs and Physical needs.

“Fulfilling the four needs in an integrated way is like combining elements in chemistry. When we reach a ‘critical mass’ of integration, we experience spontaneous combustion – an explosion of inner synergy that ignites the fire within and gives vision, passion and a spirit of adventure to life.”

Stephen. R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, Rebecca Merrill. (1994). First Things First. Simon and Schuster. New York. P48-49.

Where does this lead us in the context of the workplace? The principle of Synergy, that the sum of the parts is greater than the components that make it up and can thus achieve more, is important. It is not necessary to adopt an ‘at-all-costs’ approach to professional relationships. It is not necessary to limit all communication to a ‘need-to-know’ process. It is not necessary to gild the truth when working in partnership with colleagues. It is not necessary to judge the person instead of the product. What is necessary is a commitment to the values and mission of the organization. It is important to manage yourself in the role, without micro-managing others. It is important to be resilient and to realize that as part of a team, collaboration is important.

If you follow these principles and unlock the abilities that can be found within, you will have developed a skillset around workplace relationships, often referred to as ‘people skills’. These are essential if you are looking to progress your career. Employers look for them and your referees will comment on them. This, of course, brings us back to the Battle of Hamel.

Embodied in the battlefield of Hamel, 100 years ago, were the 7 Principles outlined by Dr. Terry Jackson and the Synergy that releases the ‘fire from within’, that Covey and Merrill spoke of. Those soldiers from Australia and the United States, had each other’s back, trusted each other, respected each other and were certain of two things. The same two things that employers look for today. That you are committed to the team and you are prepared to form quality relationships that will lead to mission success!

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