5 Ways To Cultivate Life-Changing Connections: Expand Your Capacity


One way to push through leadership plateaus is to be intentional about cultivating an ever-widening relational network.

“You may be one relationship away from changing the course of your history.”

Those words from Craig Groeschel represented a potential turning point for many leaders who gathered at the 2015 Global Leadership Summit.

Groeschel, founding pastor of LifeChurch.tv, was pointing out that if you have reached a leadership plateau, it is possible that your next breakthrough could come from expanding your relational network.

In his talk, Groeschel outlined a total of five ways you can expand your leadership capacity:

  1. Build your confidence
  2. Expand your connections
  3. Improve your competence
  4. Strengthen your character
  5. Increase your commitment

It was his second point, “Expand your connections” that resonated with a great number of people. Groeschel was pointing out that one way to push through leadership plateaus is to be intentional about cultivating an ever-widening relational network.

That has certainly proven true in my own leadership journey.

When I look back to my first leadership roles, which I nervously undertook in my early 20s and on to the greater leadership opportunities I have been afforded in later years, this principle has proven itself over and over. At each level of my leadership journey, I have found myself in the orbit of a more seasoned leader who has helped me expand my leadership capacity and rise to the next level.

At one stage in my leadership, I identified five leaders whom I believed could help me grow in five specific areas: problem solving, communicating, planning, spiritual growth, and relating to high capacity leaders. Over the course of about two years, I cultivated relationships with these leaders, and the results accelerated my growth beyond what I could have ever done on my own.

Over the years, I have learned that cultivating these relationships does not happen by chance. To cultivate leadership-building relationships you must:

  1. Maintain a humble, teachable attitude.

Genuine humility is a relational door-opener.

  1. Understand who can most help you right now.

While many leadership principles are transferable, knowing the kind of leader who is best positioned to help you at this particular stage of your development is huge. 

  1. Place yourself in the company of great leaders.

The leaders you want to know are unlikely to show up on your doorstep. You must put yourself in environments where these leaders gather.

  1. Initiative an appropriate first-step approach

Bill Hybels has rightly noted that leaders usually respond positively to a specific request for 30 minutes of time. He suggests saying, “If I could have 30 minutes of your time, I have 3 leadership questions I would love to ask you. I am asking only to meet to ask you these 3 questions.” That approach is usually well received.

  1. Pay it forward

When you’ve been the recipient of such a relational investment, you’ll want to provide the same openness to help younger leaders who are coming up behind you, too.

If you have plateaued in your development as a leader, consider how expanding your connections could be the breakthrough you need. Ask yourself:

  • In what areas of my leadership do I need to expand my capacity?
  • What leaders I am aware of who might be able to help me grow in each area?
  • What is my plan to approach these leaders?
  • How will I cultivate a relationship with them?

Let me urge you to tackle this challenge this week by working through each of these questions.

After all, as Craig Grosechel says, “You may be one relationship away from changing the course of your history.

Written by: Scott Cochrane

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