Jonathan Hood
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If you know leadership, then you’ve probably heard of John Maxwell. He is an author of over 50 books primarily focusing on leadership and influence.

I was at one of his conferences a couple years ago when I took a course with him. He talked about something that I’ll never forget: he really, really admired the way his mother had built an open relationship with him.

I remember him telling me that she said, “I want you to share anything and everything with me. Some things are going to make me feel uncomfortable, but I want us to have an open relationship and share.”

As a kid, it wasn’t ideal when he got in trouble, but because he had built a good rapport with his mother, he was able to tell her what he’d done. He knew that even though she might get upset, she wouldn’t be reactive because it was what she asked for. In turn, because she wasn’t reactive, he was able to trust her. What I love most about John’s relationship is that it creates an open avenue for communication; a two lane street that will likely stay open forever.

Imagine someone knowing they can reach out to you no matter what situation he or she is going through. They know they can talk to you. They know they can be open with you. They won’t be judged. They will not receive harshness or be met with a reactive spirit. Instead, they will be met with love and acceptance. If you can create that sort of foundation it makes it that much easier to communicate with others and build strong relationships founded on trust and openness.

In business, it’s imperative to do what I like to call “checking in”. My own mother still checks up on me until this day. When I was younger, I used to think it was weird – annoying, even – for her to constantly be checking up. But now that I’m much older, I face different challenges and sometimes experience the highs and lows that inevitably show up in life. That’s what makes her “check-ins” so crucial.

If you’re in a position of management that requires you to demonstrate leadership, it’s important to know your team inside out. Who they are. What their strengths and weaknesses are. What personal issues they might be going through. And ultimately, how they can help.

Entrepreneur Magazine recently put out an article that highlighted the benefits of “checking in” with your employees. While that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to know every single detail of their personal lives, it’s just as important to engage them on a professional front. By “checking-in” with employees one-on-one, you create an open space for meaningful dialogue, making it safe for your employees to voice how you or your company can make significant improvements. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to adjust hierarchical, “top-down” communication barriers to create a more equal playing field for success.

So put yourself out there. By fostering an open environment, you create the perfect atmosphere to engage in healthy discussions that can benefit you, your team, and everyone else around you. #GetAfterIt

-JH

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