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I deal with business owners, C-level leaders, and mid-level managers nearly every day, and a too-common challenge I see is that many view employees more as objects and as a means to an end than as people. More as tools to be directed, managed, and coordinated than resources and associates to be coached, mentored, and developed.

Don’t get me wrong – these leaders and managers aren’t ogres, but they often tend to "miss the boat" when it comes to promoting the ideas of benefiting others and helping employees achieve their potential.

Leaders are paid to get results, but those who are overly bottom-line oriented don’t experience the satisfaction of the journey, and often limit others’ sense of fulfillment. Those who focus primarily on functionality take the emotions out of business and underestimate the value of creating harmony and a sense of mission. Those who are too commanding don’t emphasize the importance of teamwork and contributing to the success of the group. Those who are overly structured and controlling place constraints on employees’ opportunities to explore new ideas and experiment with new methods.

I find that most executives have their heart in the right place but too many, in their zeal to achieve results, don’t see the proverbial forest for the trees. They have good intentions but their attitude and behavior can have unintended consequences.

Senior executives often pride themselves on being outgoing and personable, upfront and honest; on being amenable to the ideas of others; and of being accessible (open-door policy, anyone?). But, they can fear getting too close to others; restricting relationships to the professional level. They don’t understand the importance of connecting with people and building personal relationships…and how doing so positively impacts employee engagement, motivation, and performance.

Recently, Benjamin Hardy, author of the book Willpower Doesn’t Work, wrote an article entitled "How to Create Rare And Life-Changing Relationships With Anyone." In it, he underscores that developing transformational relationship, as opposed to transactional ones, is the secret of getting others to help you… because they want to. And for no other reason. Not because they were manipulated to help you. And not because they feel compelled to.

Following in an excerpt from Benjamin Hardy’s article.

There are two types of relationships:

  • Transactional
  • Transformational

Transactional relationships are economic and functional. They’re based on exchange of money, goods, or services. They serve a very clear point. And when that point no longer makes sense or has been fulfilled, the relationship ends.

Transactional relationships are important. They’re how you got the groceries in your fridge, the place you live, the clothes you wear, and most of the things you enjoy in your life.

However, when it comes to creating the deepest and most important connections, transactional mentalities won’t work.

The problem is, most people are transactional in their relationships. By very nature, transactional relationships are about getting the most you possibly can in exchange for as little as possible on your part. They’re all about you, and what you can get. Not about what you can give.

And all though it seems brutally obvious – this isn’t how you develop powerful relationships with anyone. Let alone relationships with key collaborators or mentors who can take you to "the next level" and help you grow 100X or more.

Transformational relationships, on the hand, can start out as transactions. But they go far far beyond the exchange of money, goods, or services. By very nature, transformational relationships are about giving the most you possibly can in attempts of helping others. They’re about advancing other people’s goals in a synergistic and win-win way?-?because clearly, you could do far more together than alone- Per Helen Keller.

But transformational relationships go much, much further than that.

Your relationship isn’t transformational if it doesn’t change you. If you’re not getting better. And if there aren’t generous gifts given without compulsion.

Your relationship isn’t transformational if it’s primarily about you.

Your relationship isn’t transformational if you’re not creating a bigger pie – both for the relationship and all involved. But beyond that, your relationship isn’t transformational if you aren’t making the world a better place.

Your relationships aren’t transformational if you don’t truly love the people you’re with. If you aren’t genuine. If you’re not thoughtful.

Relationships are the key to life.

When relationships are the reality, you prize people far more deeply. You value the deep meaning you get from the relationship. You’re far more intimate, honest, and caring. You’re far more likely to express gratitude, and to share your voice. And to stand up for those you love. Because the relationship is everything. It’s not something you just cast aside. It’s not merely a means to an end.

Do you view your people as objects or people?

If objects, the relationship is a transaction. A means to an end. Not THE REALITY.

If you view people as people, then the relationship is the reality. The end. And in such a case, true transformation can occur.

Benjamin writes that "Relationships are the key to life." And I would add that relationships are the key to work.

 You can read his complete article here.