I had the opportunity to participate in Deer Camp this weekend with family and friends. This was my second consecutive year enjoying this timeless tradition in MN.

It was as fantastic as I anticipated. Not because of the outcome, which was good as I shot the first deer of my life, but because of the time spent together enjoying conversations and just plain hanging out together. Relationships were enhanced, memories were made, and we already look forward with anticipation to next year.

This made me think of the importance of servant leaders being intentional about building relationships. Aside from ensuring the Purpose, Vision, and Values of an organization or team are well articulated and known by everyone, I don’t think there is much more important in a leader’s agenda than to build relationships.

Building relationships doesn’t happen by accident; instead it is done through intentional effort and process. Relationships are enhanced when:

  • You bring the best of who you are into the relationship; the best includes core elements like integrity, tolerance, honesty, and trustworthiness.
  • You want the best for others. My boys had each shot deer in years past, but I never had. I think they were just as excited to see me get one, as when they shot one.
  • You help others achieve their aspirations, dreams, goals, or personal best.
  • The relationship is more important than any single outcome. “Getting a deer” is just a bonus.
  • You invest time, communication, commitment, and authenticity.
  • You listen well, showing genuine care, concern, and compassion.
  • You show gratitude and operate with an attitude of appreciation.
  • You give more than you take.
  • The relationships are mutually beneficial.
  • You respect where others are coming from – knowledge, experience, state of mind, values, beliefs, and needs. Put yourself in their shoes!
  • You recognize and build on people’s strengths.
  • You genuinely love others!

I marvel at the enthusiastic anticipation of deer hunters for getting to deer camp for a weekend or week of camaraderie. Think if you could develop a similar atmosphere for people within your team or organization. By getting intentional about creating an atmosphere that focuses on building relationships, I think you can build a scenario where people are just as excited about coming to work.

What are some keys you have found to drive relationships and build an atmosphere where people love to participate?

Mark Deterding

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Romans 12:9-10