Written by Liz Free


Posted on September 6 2019

Originally posted on Liz Free’s blog on August 21 2018


One of my most favourite things about summer holidays is that I get time to read. I plan my book purchases well in advance (with true antiquated sentiment I cling on to my hardbacks) and buy actual newspapers! I read fervently everyday before falling into a siesta slumber every afternoon.

An article that begin ruminating in my brain during these long and hazy days, came not from an education academic piece or even my very heavy hardback ‘The President’s Missing’ (interesting read by the way) but by an article in the Independent ‘The 10 Questions you should ask your partner so your relationship can thrive: questioning your expectations and compatibility is key, researchers claim’. My immediate thought, well this should prove interesting! Having decided to marry my husband on day 3, probably means I failed miserably at a carefully considered approach to compatibility (9 years in, I think we are ok though!).

As I delved further, I discovered that this piece was not a ‘dead donkey’ article written for the summer hiatus of news but from a serious study and research project led by Professor Anne Barlow (@ProfAnneBarlow) from Exeter Law School looking at key questions to consider for couples to assess their true compatibility.

A serious piece of research aimed at reducing levels of divorce. Admirable work and good advice for the less impulsive amongst us (or perhaps even more importantly for the impulsive amongst us), but, what was increasingly interesting to me, was the idea of there being optimum conditions for a relationship ‘thriving’. What are the implications of an evidence-based view on this and does it apply to all relationships?

When we think about leadership and the design of leadership programmes, we start with the self and knowing who we are. How do we present as a leader, who are we as individuals and how can the essence of who we are and how we are, positively impact on others to co-actively create impactful change for the benefit of all around us? And it is this aspect that stands out to me.

We are in relationships with our teams and the people with whom we lead. Everything we aspire to achieve is dependent on the strength of the team.

So… for a bit of late summer fun, what if we were to ask these questions of our teams? Do we have a ‘good fit’?

These 10 questions are: 

  1. Are my partner and I a ‘good fit’?
  2. Do we have a strong basis of friendship?
  3. Do we want the same things in our relationship and out of life?
  4. Are our expectations realistic?
  5. Do we generally see the best in each other?
  6. Do we both work at keeping our relationship vibrant?
  7. Do we both feel we can discuss things freely and raise issues with each other?
  8. Are we both committed to working through hard times?
  9. When we face stressful circumstances would we pull together to get through it?
  10. Do we each have supportive others around us?

Whilst this musing is a bit of late summer fun, I think there is much to learn from looking across and beyond immediate research in our fields.  I find the questions challenging and thought provoking.

In thinking about authentic leadership, we need authentic professional relationships and, maybe, starting with the quality of these relationships from the get –go is the strongest leadership approach of all?

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