Being a great leader is difficult. Some would argue that a great leader is born, not made. However, we know through research in organizational psychology that individuals can develop. This is good news for organizations - particularly those who cannot simply recruit and cherry pick the best of the best. Although some leadership qualities are more difficult to develop, I have always found it interesting when we identify a leadership quality that most individuals can develop with sheer work ethic and motivation. One quality that has the potential to fall into this category is relational skills. The Leadership Resource Center defines relational leadership as "leadership that focuses on the idea that leadership effectiveness has to do with the ability of the leader to create positive relationships within the organization."
You can think about a relationship leader as someone who focuses on relationships first. It isn't necessary to even think of this in the leadership or business context. We all know people who have a strong focus on relationships. In our personal lives, friendships, marriages, etc., we know that there are certain components that are needed to ensure that our relationships are healthy.
Focusing on the following components helps to build relationships and more effective leaders.
Let's be honest, we know not everyone has the ability to relate to others. There are extreme introverts, individuals who are socially awkward or prefer to work alone. But, we know that most individuals who have a somewhat "normal" psychological profile have the ability to have relationships with others. Although they may fall down in other aspects, ensuring that their working relationships are solid will help with some of their other challenges as leaders. With a little bit of time and effort, most leaders can develop and prioritize building strong relationships.