Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Dimensions of Relational Leadership

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Khadija White-Thomas
February 27, 2023

As leaders reflect on their presence, it is of great importance along the leadership journey to establish a sense of connection with others. If you think about it, being relational is critical for an interpersonal approach that considers positive relationships, cooperative systems, collaborative structures and employees’ evolving needs.

When we think about the definition of “relational”, it refers to a way in which two or more people or things are connected, a genuine interconnectedness with others and an interpersonal and emotional level of affiliation.

Often, leaders can become so narrowly focused on strategic performance and decision making that the relational aspects become blurred and even overlooked. So, how do leaders establish their relationships and maintain that requisite for affiliation? In this writing, nurturing relational leadership focuses on four key dimensions.


Consider your environment—within a personal or professional setting in which you transmit a presence of leadership, guidance, direction or governance.

  • What does this philosophy suggest? Are there clear leadership expectations within the organization, the department, the team or the cohort?

  • What vision, mission or point of view is shared for clearly defining how leaders accomplish goals and objectives?

  • An approach to creating bonds and alliances must be the catalyst for authenticating relational leadership.


Despite the pressure and grind that comes with certain professions, the compassionate side of leadership is often absent in day-to-day responsibilities.

    • Compassion is essential as leaders intermingle with a diverse population of individuals. It takes tremendous energy to develop, promote and nurture relational leadership that thrives on compassion.

    • Kindness and empathy is the dynamic duo for creating a followership, and both are necessary to form future alliances and strategies.

    • Ask yourself: To what extent has my leadership character been focused on finding the balance of compassion, kindness and empathy needed to design future efforts?


Are communication efforts masqueraded by empty and vague statements that are irrelevant to what really needs to be shared?

  • For instance, should leaders share “feel good” messages because they lack the courage and the wherewithal to be transparent when the opportunity is presented?

  • Don’t misunderstand this area of relational leadership. It is vital to the fundamental of business to inspire, motivate and encourage.

  • Relational leadership does not require the dropping of a heavy gauntlet. However, communication in terms of relational leadership is an intricate area for sharing information relevant to the needs of all, speaking across boundaries to redirect information for consumption by many—not few—and creating new capacities for sharing information.

  • Ask yourself: Am I more of a gatekeeper (refusing to share relevant and helpful details) or am I a designer—constructing communication conduits (sharing relevant and helpful information)?


It does not take substantial intellect or energy to show respect for one another.

  • With regard to respect and relational leadership, leaders should make a concerted effort to reconstruct or restructure environments that rely heavily on power, influence, authority and inflexibility.

  • Utilize these opportunities to break barriers for increasing employee morale and job satisfaction.

  • Despite organizational pecking orders, executive status or position titles, respect within relational leadership requires the devotion of time and energy for progressive, organizational and relational transformation.

  • There are many inevitable consequences when there is a lack of respect, and those consequences can result in organizational dysfunction and destruction such as low morale, staff disengagement, low productivity and mediocre performance, lack of motivation which inhibits the maximum use of knowledge within an organization and constant strife.

  • Ask yourself: Am I challenging the status quo and old hierarchy monopolies?

Key Dimensions: Philosophy, Compassion, Communication and Respect

In this writing, four dimensions of relational leadership are discussed. Do not let the questions go unanswered because they are not intended to be rhetorical. Answering these questions can assist leaders in determining the precise areas in which their leadership has been unexplored. This writing aims to help leaders in many capacities—professional and personal—discover and achieve relational leadership goals through philosophy, compassion, communication and respect.

As a leader, I owe enormous gratitude for every personal and professional relationship I have garnered over the years. I remain thankful for time spent sitting alongside my mentors, and I have also been humbled to have mentees consider my viewpoints as desirable guidance. All these relationships provided me with an opportunity to consult, strategize and glean wisdom and expertise. As I continue to benefit from these alliances, I am reminded that philosophy, compassion, communication and respect remain the tapestry of relational leadership.

Author: Dr. Khadijia White-Thomas works in the federal courts as an executive leader. She is also the Founder and CEO of Decree Consulting & Publishing, LLC, focusing on organizational change, and providing business coaching, strategy, and marketing consulting services. Contact Dr. Khadijia at www.decreeconsult.com.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *