Building Authentic Leadership to Cultivate Healthier Relationships

Building Authentic Leadership to Cultivate Healthier Relationships

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D., ACPEC

In the pursuit of happiness and well-being, relationships play a pivotal role. Renowned psychologist Martin Seligman introduced the PERMA model, which identifies five essential elements for flourishing: Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment. In the last three months, we gave an overview of the model and more deeply explored the P and E of the model. Now we plunge into ‘Relationships,’ of which we all have many, and therefore there’s lots of opportunity for messiness AND maximizing.

Beginning with the end in mind, cultivating meaningful connections is a crucial aspect of well-being because human beings are inherently social creatures, and we need one another to thrive. Strong social bonds provide emotional support, encouragement, and a sense of belonging. And well-being impacts performance, so we now have a really good reason to focus on doing whatever is in our power to create and sustain healthy relationships! Investing time in relationships, both at work and in our personal lives, contributes not only to our mental health but also enhances our overall life satisfaction. After all, the joy of shared experiences and accomplishments is unparalleled.

A key theme in cultivating relationships revolves around authenticity. This is one area where leadership gets tricky because there’s no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all all approach; what works for one leader might not apply for another. But there are some essential ingredients to being authentic and creating a signature style that is both genuine and impactful. Here’s how to build your authentic leadership brand: 

“It’s no longer about what our leaders are doing, it’s about who they are being”
Brandon Hall Conference, February 2024

1. Accentuate Positive Emotions within Relationships:

Positive emotions are the building blocks of strong relationships. To amplify relationships, it’s essential to foster positivity within interactions. Authentic leaders express gratitude, show appreciation, and practice acts of kindness. Whether through a simple thank-you note or a heartfelt gesture, cultivating positivity enhances the emotional bond between individuals. By focusing on positive emotions, relationships become more resilient, nurturing, and fulfilling.

2. Engage Fully in Relationship Interactions:

Engagement refers to the state of being fully absorbed and involved in activities. Within relationships, it translates to being present and attentive during interactions. Authentic leaders prioritize quality time spent together. Put away distractions, such as phones or work-related thoughts, and engage in meaningful conversations. Active listening, empathy, and genuine interest in the other person’s experiences foster deeper connections. By engaging fully in relationship interactions, bonds strengthen, and mutual understanding deepens.

3. Nurture Meaningful Connections:

Meaningful relationships provide a sense of purpose and belonging. Authentic leaders focus on nurturing connections that hold significance. This involves investing time and effort in building and maintaining meaningful relationships. Identify shared values, interests, and goals, and explore ways to collaborate and support each other’s aspirations. By fostering meaningful connections, relationships become sources of inspiration, support, and fulfillment.

4. Find Purpose and Accomplishment Together:

Shared goals and accomplishments are integral in cultivating relationships. Within the PERMA model, accomplishment refers to the pursuit of achievement and mastery. Authentic leaders identify common goals or projects that both parties can work towards together. Whether it’s tag-teaming a project, attending an event together, or supporting each other’s personal endeavors, shared experiences create a sense of unity and collaboration. Celebrate milestones and achievements together, reinforcing the bond and sense of accomplishment within the relationship.

5. Prioritize Relationship Building:

Amplifying relationships requires intentional effort and prioritization. In the craziness of daily life, it’s easy to overlook the importance of nurturing connections. However, investing time and energy into relationship building yields long-term benefits for well-being and happiness. Authentic leaders prioritize and schedule regular check-ins, outings, or activities to strengthen the bond with important people in their lives. Make a conscious effort to communicate openly, resolve conflicts constructively, and show appreciation for each other’s presence. By prioritizing relationship building, individuals can cultivate deeper, more meaningful connections that contribute to overall happiness and fulfillment.

6. Practice Gratitude and Appreciation:

Gratitude is a powerful tool for amplifying relationships. Expressing gratitude towards colleagues and loved ones strengthens the emotional bond and fosters a sense of appreciation. Authentic leaders take time to acknowledge the positive qualities and contributions of those around them. Whether through verbal expressions of gratitude, small gestures of kindness, or thoughtful acts of service, practicing gratitude cultivates a culture of appreciation within relationships. By acknowledging and valuing each other’s presence, relationships thrive and flourish.

7. Grow Empathy and Understanding:

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Within relationships, empathy fosters compassion, connection, and mutual support. Authentic leaders cultivate empathy by actively seeking to understand the perspectives and experiences of others. They practice active listening, validate emotions, and offer support and encouragement when needed. By fostering empathy and understanding, relationships become more nurturing, resilient, and fulfilling.

We’re social creatures by design. Relationships are fundamental to human well-being happiness, and performance. By leveraging insights from Martin Seligman’s PERMA model, leaders can amplify their relationships and cultivate deeper connections. By focusing on positivity, engagement, meaningfulness, accomplishment, prioritization, gratitude, and empathy, relationships thrive and flourish, contributing to overall happiness and impact in life. And we are all leaders within our sphere of influence! As we prioritize and invest in nurturing our relationships, we pave the way for a more fulfilling and meaningful existence.

Interested in how you may embrace PERMA to amplify your well-being and performance? We have a special 14-session package designed for leaders at all levels. What we cover in these sessions may be applied at work and home, so there’s double the ROI! Topics we’ll cover and implement include forgiveness, gratitude, savoring, building optimism, leveraging strengths and much more. Our flagship Positive Intelligence program is also included and for a limited time, this package deal is available for $4995 per person until we fill available openings (a savings of more than $2000). 

Imagine having a greater impact and more fulfillment – we can help you create more!

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