Eve Annunziato

Can You Relate? January 4, 2009

On our way home from our annual Christmas trip to the Smoky Mountains (started this year!) while we were singing Christmas carols for three hours at the top of our lungs, I asked my typical question: “What was your favorite part of our trip?”   I expected my daughter to say visiting the aquarium, swimming in the heated pool, attending a show, shopping at one of three outlet malls (oh, wait, that was my fave!), eating the great food, or walking through the streets amongst the sea of beautiful Christmas lights. Instead, her response was, “Being with my family!”   She proceeded to elaborate – “When I was a little kid (as if she were no longer little), I had a dream of a mommy named Eve, a daddy named Charlie, and a brother named Gentry – and they all looked like you.  When I grew-up my prayers came true!”

It occurred to me that my 4-year old daughter gets it.  Even Oharah’s teacher told us she’s often the class leader befriending everyone along the way.  She understands the key to great leadership; management via relationship – what I consider MOST IMPORTANT!  If you don’t put the people you lead before your purpose, you’re not leading to your fullest potential.  It took me a while to learn this vital lesson, after I failed, failed, and then failed some more.

When asked by a very successful businesswoman and volunteer coordinator at my recent Team Building workshop, “Why should I get to know my team members?  Aren’t I supposed to send out schedules, make reminder calls, and organize my teams, only?” This is a common misconception and a popular reaction.  We spent 20 minutes on this discussion, but to sum up my response, leaders can’t afford to get caught up in administrative tasks.  You’re most effective when you have time to encourage, support, shepherd, connect, vision-cast, and interact.  This builds trust, loyalty and community among those whom you’re leading and you.

It’s seems insignificant, maybe even unimportant, but it’s the best part of the job.  Recently, I had lunch with four of my female team leaders.  We never talked “shop.”  Instead, we had in-depth conversations about marriage, kids, faith and life’s challenges.  I want my teammates to know that I first care about them and choose to do life with them.  Completing tasks are easier when they know their existence means something to the organization and me.  Here’s great news – it’s the best part of the job.  Forced leadership is overrated; building authentic relationships is much more inspirational, rewarding and fun!

If you feel relational leadership is over-hyped because it’s too “nurturing” and “feel good” and leading shouldn’t be about popularity, than frankly, you’re missing the point.  Unbeknownst to you, without it, you may unintentionally discourage, deflate, and dispirit workers. Take time to spend time with them and let them know they’re more than just a means to an end result.  No matter how much money you earn, how much power you possess, or what job title you obtain, if you’re missing this mark, you’re not where you COULD be.

By the way, the inquisitive volunteer and Company VP recently contacted me.  She started using this philosophy in her business, enjoying the relational part of her volunteer duties most of all and feeling more “helpful and fulfilled!”  In other words, she can relate, now can you?


9 Responses to “Can You Relate?”

  1. tam Says:

    good, good, no…great post!

    this is something my husband, a worship Pastor, deals with constantly. the problem is…he needs 3 more of him to free him up to connect, like you write, on that much needed personal level with his team. he’s so inundated with schedules, tech stuff, upkeep, counseling, etc – that he barely has enough time to connect with his team (the worship and media team). its something we have both tried to combat together because we see the importance of it. and we are getting there, slowly, but we need to (imo) go much further…

    anyhooo – love your thoughts and approach and i agree 100% with you!

    Happy New Year!

  2. That Ohara really rocks. I look forward to attending her wedding to Asher someday! hee hee….OH, and YOU rock too!

  3. @Tam, I hear ya! It’s especially important when leading Creative Artists. As we all know, they work best through community and relationships! (They’re my fave type of volunteers by the way!).
    Thanks for reading and for your always awesome comments!

    @Melissa, okay, how cute would their babies – our grand-kids be????!!! Love your comments!

  4. Wow…you are SO inspirational!! FOR REAL, eve!!! And btw, Oharah is going to be just like YOU..in fact, she already is! 🙂

  5. Ah, Deb, such kind words!! THANKS! Honestly, Oharah is just like my mother! She has her exact personality (and that’s a good thing!!!).

  6. Charlie Says:

    There are ways to be successful in leadership and methods that just give you grief and sub-par results. Eve, your approach is right on – and I’ve seen it work time and time again as you lead your teams. Brilliant! Awesome job…

  7. I have said it before and will say it again, Eve you are a treasure ! and an inspiration. Thank you for taking the time to write this it is lovely.

  8. Jenni Catron Says:

    Eve, you are always such a great example of relational leadership. Great post!

  9. @Charlie, you’re always so supportive. Gotta love ya!

    @Lisa and Jenni, your encouragement means so much to me. Thanks for reading and your positive comments! Love serving with you guys!

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