Regardless of your business or product, you are in the people business. And people are about relationships. I realize that is the soft side of leadership for some. Some may even believe they don’t have time for “the soft stuff.” Several months ago, a leader in my leadership development program told me he was too busy for the soft stuff.

I told him I could appreciate it; it was about getting results. He is in a highly competitive, fast-paced business. We discussed the relevancy and importance of connecting with his best and learning more about what “makes them tic.” What are their primary concerns? How can he, as the leader, support them more, provide resources for them to grow, and, in turn, be more effective?

We then got specific. We discussed two of his team’s top performers. He told me he intentionally left them alone, only meeting with them if there was an issue besides the quarterly review process. I asked him what investing 20-30 minutes weekly in his best people would take. He repeated, “No time, and they know how to do their job.” We then reviewed where he was spending his time. He discovered there were things he was doing that someone else could do. I must tell you, he was embarrassed and almost got defensive. I wasn’t going to let him off the “hook.”

The best use of his time is strengthening his relationship with his best performers. The turning point was when I looked him in the eye and said, “Tom (not his real name), if you don’t have time for your best, then who do you have time for?” I reminded him that everyone wants to be seen, listened to, and valued. I promised him they would accept the intention. In the end, they will value your leadership.

During these past few months, he has reported to me how much he is learning about his team and himself. He shared with me that he is growing because he is investing his time in a place where there will be a better rate of return.

The bottom line is that I’m reminding everyone that we are in the relationship business — and that’s people. When the people grow, the business grows.