How to Use Relational Leadership to Drive Engagement in Your Business

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How to Use Relational Leadership to Drive Engagement in Your Business

One of the main challenges in business is building loyalty with your stakeholders, like employees and customers.

There are various ideas on how to build employee engagement and customer loyalty. However, the question is how do you do it sustainably?

In this blog post, I write about one of the most effective ways to build an engaged team and, in turn, a successful business. 

A great idea to drive this positive change in your business is to become a relational leader!

The relational leadership style will improve your business relationship with your key stakeholders.

Relational leadership, as the name implies, is about being relational rather than transactional in your interactions.

There are five positive attributes of a relational leader and good leadership, and I will discuss them below.

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The first attribute of an effective relational leader is inclusion. Inclusion is the act of including someone or people, which can be in different forms. 

The most popular form is including previously disadvantaged people in activities or positions that they were excluded from in the past.

However, as a leader, you must broaden this concept to all aspects of your business. 

For example, do you include your team in your decision-making process? Or do you make decisions and pass instructions down?

Inclusion in decision-making, problem-solving etc., help build the engagement you want from your employees. In the long term, it will be beneficial to the business.

Another form is to include your customers in your business through surveys, customer feedback, interviews etc. It will have a significant effect on your engagement with your customers.

To be an effective leader, you must seek the most effective way to involve your stakeholders. 

Another way to drive inclusion is to build a network of leadership relationships across your organization. It will improve social order in your organization and your team’s professional lives.

Inclusive leaders should continuously look for ways to give themselves a good grade on how well they drive inclusion in their organization.

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Another trait in relational leadership theory is that effective leaders invest in the growth of their people. An essential way of influencing people is to empower them to take full ownership of their work.

To be an effective leader, you must create a process and environment that allows people to take ownership, make mistakes, learn and grow. As the leader, you should seek to drive this process orientation across your organization: “we can make mistakes, just never the same mistake!”

Often in the short term, it’s easier to do the work yourself. However, investing in creating empowered people will transform your business.

An empowered team will deploy their discretionary energy and intellect to get things done and allows you to have leverage in your business.

Hence always seek to operate as a servant leader and focus on ways to empower your team.


As a leader, you need to have a clear personal purpose, including the purpose of the business. The purpose should be used to create the company’s values so that there is a shared vision and common good.

It is essential to have a communication rhythm that regularly communicates the purpose and values of the organization across the company.

The organization’s purpose and values should filter into everything it does, especially the things involving your people, such as hiring, development etc.

As a leader, you must drive the purpose and values of your organization through your behavior and communication. 

Overall you must seek to be the type of leader focused on creating purposeful leaders in key roles driving the group’s purpose.

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Ethical Behavior

Ethics can be a very grey area because of different values and beliefs. Hence ethical leadership is good news when it’s done right in an organization.

Just like lack of disclosure is often the issue with conflict of interest and not the conflict itself, the same applies to ethics, where lack of clarity of the organization’s ethics is often the main issue.

As a leader, it is essential to be clear and transparent about the ethics and values of your organization.

Often people come with their own values, different culture and social dimensions; hence they need a way to find common ground.

Hence effective leaders should clearly define the ethical behaviors that will create the positive effect required in the organization.

It would be best to observe these because your actions are louder than your words.

In addition, you should institute regular sessions where you discuss ethical dilemmas that exist from time to time in your organization.

The session opens up an opportunity to teach your people and ensure that your ethical standards and values remain fit for purpose.


The final attribute is to be a process-driven leader. Often the process is more important than the result or outcome.

Process-oriented leaders ensure that they create processes that drive most organizational activities in conjunction with their team.

It is imperative in those processes that affect your people, such as hiring, performance management, firing, workplace disputes etc.

It should always be clear what process will be followed, and the execution should be transparent.

Photo by Heather Morse on Unsplash

Overall if you adopt this overarching framework with these five traits as a leader, you will be very effective, and as a result, you will build a successful organization.

As you think about how to improve your leadership, I will suggest three simple steps.

  1. Take stock of where you are across these five attributes to clarify what needs to improve.
  2. The next step is to pick the first attribute you want to improve and then plan to get better. I suggest running 30-day sprints with specific actions.
  3. The last step is to measure and celebrate success, then on to the next one – this is a continuous process that never ends as you improve your leadership effectiveness.

If you find this blog helpful, share it with your colleagues and friends.

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