In Part 1, I mentioned that in every relationship, there are three things supporting it. If I talk about relationships as a three-legged stool, then each support is a leg of the stool. The first leg of the stool is you. The second leg of the stool is the other person. The third leg of the stool is the relationship that you have.

In Part 2, I talked about how relationships are built by focusing on the third leg. The third leg is the reasons why we want to have a relationship with someone. When we focus on the first or second leg and try to change each other, we detract from the construction of the third leg. Acceptance is a good foundation for building any relationship.

So in this Part 3, let's begin to examine how to build positive, valuable relationships. It will take a series of blog posts to look at all of the elements of relationship building. In this post, I want to focus on leadership.

Every relationship needs a leader. In a parent-child relationship, the leader is generally the parent. The parent has more experience. The parent has control over the greatest resources. It makes sense that the parent would lead and teach the child what the child needed to know. The child can make requests, but the parent generally makes a unilateral decision about what is best for the child.

At home, the kids usually know who the leader is. It is either Mom or Dad. One of them generally asks for things to be done or makes the decisions for the family. Both parents probably play an important role, but one of the two generally appears to be the leader.

In our relationships at work, there is often a hierarchy that determines who is the leader. For example, many employees report to a manager. In theory at least, the manager understands the business and is in a better position to lead the employees toward success. But even when the manager is not the best leader, the hierarchy is generally preserved by the understanding that the employee is being paid to do what “the company” requests.

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So what do you do if your manager isn't leading you to success and happiness?

Better yet, what do you do when there is no hierarchy to determine the leader?

If no one steps forward to provide effective leadership, your relationships suffer. The kids don't clear their rooms, because they are glued to the television or their video games. The family never goes on vacation, because Dad is stuck in his work routine. And at work, it starts to feel like the same thing every day, because the boss hasn't figured out how to run the company more effectively.

Life is so much better when our relationships have good leadership. Leadership gives us direction. Leadership provides ideas. Leadership can help us meet our needs, express our feelings, and reward us for our efforts.

So part of the quest for better relationships should be a search for better leadership.

In my next post I am going to provide a piece of leadership for you - some suggestions on how you can develop leadership skills for your relationships.

Read part 4