Building Lifeline Relationships, and Why It’s Critical to Leadership Success

Mar 27, 2014

Behind every great leader, at the base of every great tale of success, you’ll find an indispensable circle of trusted advisors, mentors, and colleagues.

These groups come in all forms and sizes and can be found at every level and in nearly all spheres of professional life, and what they all have in common is a unique connection with each other defined as lifeline relationships.

These relationships are, quite literally, why some people succeed far more than others, says Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success — And Won’t Let You Fail.

Mindsets to help build deep, trusting relationships

There’s a good chance that you’ve already experienced the power and potential of lifeline relationships at some point in your life. Most of us have come up against a personal or professional problem that was just too big to solve alone.

If we want to be as successful as we know we can be, we need the help of others we trust.

Too many people make the mistake of thinking serendipity, chemistry, or some kind of magic is required to bring these deep, trusting relationships into our lives. In fact, these relationships are best built by design.

Imagine some of the attributes of the best bosses you’ve ever had — the kind who encourages you, who gives you space to grow, who appreciates your efforts, who doesn’t micromanage but guides your development with wisdom, and who handles your slip-ups with firmness, understanding, and candor.

Or, picture the colleague who took a risk for you, and whose influence still touches you today.

There are four core mind-sets — which can be learned and practiced immediately — that form the behavioral foundation for creating the deep trusting relationships that create success.

1. Generosity

This is the commitment to mutual support that begins with the willingness to show up and creatively share our deepest insights and ideas with the world. It’s the promise to help others succeed by whatever means we can muster.

Generosity signals the end of isolation by cracking open a door to a trusting emotional environment — a ‘safe space’ that’s necessary for creating relationships in which the other mindsets can flourish.

3. Vulnerability

This means letting your guard down so mutual understanding can occur.

Here you cross the threshold into a safe space after intimacy and trust have pushed the door wide open.

The relationship engendered by generosity then moves toward a place of fearless friendship where risks are taken and invitations are offered to others.

4. Candor

This is the freedom to be totally honest with those in which you confide.

Vulnerability clears the pathways of feedback so that you are able to share your hopes and fears. Candor allows us to begin to constructively interpret, respond to, and grapple with that information.

5. Accountability

Accountability is following through on the promises you make to others. It’s about giving and receiving the feet-to-the-fire tough love through which real change is sustained.

The concept of reaching out to others for support isn’t about changing who you are. It’s about enlisting the help and advice of others to help you become the best you possible.

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.

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