A Leader Must Always Look to Establish, Build, and Repair Relationships

[This reflection is from Jason McArthur,  Strategic Business Operations Manager, University of Illinois.  He is a current participant in the MOR Leaders Program.  Jason may be reached at jamcrthr@illinois.edu.] 

Good afternoon!

Over the course of this program we have learned how important it is to establish, repair, and continue to build relationships. Relationships are currency.

During our first session, I had an aha moment, when James  Quisenberry said that “Relationships are more important than being right. Being right can deter influence.” In the past, I’ve lost sight of that, and damaged a relationship with a key campus group, because I was more concerned about being right. After our first session, I began to reflect on relationships that I have, that I need to develop, and ones that I need to try and repair.

COVID-19 has presented lots of challenges for us all. For me, it’s also presented lots of wonderful opportunities to build new relationships, as well as repairing some that I fractured. Almost immediately, I was given the opportunity to work with the Provost Office on a large emergency purchase to support online learning. It wasn’t a project that I would normally support, but there was a need for expertise with Illinois procurement law and rules to help streamline and execute this project quickly. I was able to work with new leaders, and establish new relationships. Ultimately, we completed a large purchase with a complex contract within six calendar days, which is unprecedented. A new relationship was added to the leadership toolbox.

Another opportunity occurred when I was asked to participate in a campus-wide group that was assembled to create a technology loaner program. The loaner program provides IT equipment to students, faculty, and staff to support remote learning and work. The project provide me with multiple opportunities to work on relationships. First, the project required me to work with a leader of a campus administrative unit, in which I had a strained relationship with. For the first few weeks, we worked together frequently, and we were able to help each other out. It took an unprecedented crisis for us to address previous issues, but I believe that we both realize the value that each of us brings, and that our relationship is on an upward trend. Additionally, the project allowed me to work with IT professionals from across campus, many of which are new relationships, and will allow me to further expand my network across campus.

I’ve learned that as a leader you must always look to establish, build, and repair relationships. We never know when the moment will present itself, but we must always be ready, and take advantage of those wonderful opportunities!
See you all soon.

Be well!



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