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How can leaders build meaningful relationships with their teams

Leadership is not about telling people what to do - it's about building meaningful relationships with the people you lead.

Successful leaders go beyond delegating work and communicating how to do tasks. They show humanity and a genuine interest in the people they work with, which in return can go a long way toward fostering successful communication in the workplace. Leaders who proactively build strong and authentic relationships with their teams and peers can not only positively impact their organisational culture, but also be more effective overall.

1. Listen actively

Leaders who listen actively build trust and respect with their teams. When leaders listen actively, they demonstrate that they care about their team member's ideas and opinions. Active listening means giving full attention to the person speaking to you, maintaining eye contact, and asking questions to clarify and deepen your understanding. By actively listening to their team members, leaders learn more about their needs, wants, and aspirations, and will be better equipped to help them achieve their goals.

2. Provide feedback

Feedback is essential for growth and development, and it's a critical component of building strong relationships. Guiding employees, as well as celebrating their success can not only improve engagement levels but also prevent burnout. As a leader, it's your responsibility to provide both positive and constructive feedback to your team members. Positive feedback helps to reinforce great performance while constructive feedback helps team members to identify areas for improvement. By providing regular feedback, leaders will help their team members to grow and develop, and they'll build stronger relationships based on trust and respect.

3. Build and maintain trust

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship and is especially important in the workplace. A leader's capacity to inspire trust in others is essential in motivating and inspiring members of their team, as well as creating a collaborative culture. It’s important to remember that trust takes time to build, but is easy to lose, and requires leaders to ‘walk the talk’, be open and transparent, keep their promises, and show consistency in their actions and behaviour. When their team members trust them, they're more likely to be open and honest, which can lead to better communication and collaboration, and a. culture of psychological safety.

4. Foster collaboration

One of the most important elements leaders can pay attention to in creating a culture of collaboration is actively promoting it. Just like being busy and being productive are not the same, for leaders to become more essential, they need to become less involved, delegate and enable collaboration. It is a leadership paradox and requires leaders to activate those around them to be successful, instead of holding on to their work or doing so in isolation. A great way of fostering collaboration is by encouraging team members to share their ideas and perspectives and facilitating discussions that promote creativity and innovation. By fostering collaboration, leaders will create an environment where team members feel empowered to contribute their best ideas and work together towards a common goal.

5. Show empathy

Recent research suggests that leaders who practice empathy have a more engaged and higher-performing team, as well as a more profitable business overall. When leaders demonstrate empathy, they create a safe and supportive environment where team members feel valued and respected. Empathy also helps to build trust and understanding, which can lead to better communication and collaboration. By encouraging an inclusive culture of empathy, leaders can create an environment that connects people to their work, inspires them to achieve their best, and helps them navigate their responsibilities.

At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering training and development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops, and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at


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