Relational Leadership vs. Position Leadership

10. 2. 2017

If anyone has started to read John Maxwell’s book “Developing the Leader Within You”. One will agree that a leader wants to become influential; he has to ensure he has the charisma that could attract his people willing to follow him.

Author: Gilbert Chong Kwee Ng

If anyone has started to read John Maxwell’s book “Developing the Leader Within You”. One will agree that a leader wants to become influential; he has to ensure he has the charisma that could attract his people willing to follow him.

John had further mentioned that the higher level of leadership one can reach, the higher is his/her leadership effectiveness. And John always tease his participants that if they are at level one leadership, when they meet their ex-staff, they would note the staff is avoiding to a head on meeting with them.

However, there are many leaders in Asia culture environment; they usually believe influencing people is having the authority or power designated to them.

Some even shared with that they don’t need to waste too much time building relationship because what the organisation wants is to get results in the shortest possible time.

They perceive that relationship building is kind of time waster and gain no value in obtaining the outcome.

When staff is being asked about their expectation from their superiors, the common answer always revolved around is just about completing the tasks assigned to them, and rewarded with attractive increment and bonus is their ultimate destination.

The staff responded that money is one of their motivation factor, but what they hope to receive from their superior is support, understanding and compliments.

Overall employees want superior to show their care especially during the times of difficulties, they don’t mind to work hard and the least expectation is a “thank you” or “Job well done” compliments which will encourage them very much.

Why most leaders are not focusing on relationship building? Are they too busy for other matters or they don’t believe it is necessary?

We could see in most cases, leaders are more concern in achieving their Key Performance Index that set by the top management. With the limited time and resources, they would feel exercising the position and authority could move their staff faster for result instead of spending so much time understanding and supporting them.

While some leaders could feel that they don’t have any support from their superiors, what they are facing is all about how to get the results and other matters don’t seem to attract their superiors’ attention at all.

When they are working in this kind of environment where from the top to the bottom is chasing the number game, nobody could have bothered about building relationship. Everybody is fighting for survival and is highly competitive atmosphere and people tend to behave coldly to each other.

While company is always having the ambition in promoting “healthy competition”, however the reality of the situation is everybody is “fighting” among each other to secure a better promotion opportunity.

Leaders must walk the talk, they have to feel secure and confident with their positions and never be doubtful in sharing their knowledge, experiences and skills with their staff. This is one of the ways to build a trusting relationship, and they must have the faith that the more his people learn from them, the more efficient and effective they became and in return, the team will achieve a greater results and this will benefit everyone and the company as a whole.

Positional leaders feel insecure and always use the power to suppress people; this behaviour will affect the morale of the team in long term. When there is no trusting relationship, there will be no commitment, loyalty and sacrifices from teammates. Therefore, the performance will be badly affected and this is the reason why many leaders always complaint about their staffs are not committed, lack of initiative and disloyal towards the company.

Leaders must understand that people see what people do, especially seeing what their leaders are doing. If leaders are not able to build the trust with their people, how could they expect their people to be committed?

To conclude in this article, research suggests to all leaders is “to touch a heart before they want to ask for a hand”, and this is even more true for Asian culture where relationship is utmost important in all business dealing, internal corporate working culture and achieve an effective team work.

To invest time now is to save time in future, could you imagine that your team is so excited and motivated to work with you. There is no reason why leader still hesitate to build good relationship with his people. A successful leader is the one that have many followers who are willing to give their best to him without even asking for a reward!


Developing the Leader Within You, John C. Maxwell, October 2, 2005

Leadership Gold, John C. Maxwell, March 30, 2008

The Person of Influence, John C. Maxwell August 27, 2006

Application for study

Interactive online: