How important are relationships as a Change Leader?
Simply stated, relationships matter, they make a competitive difference. Project Management: How IT and Business Relationships Shape Success - CIO.com - Business Technology Leadership
If you are facing a transformational change, pay attention to relationships. Relationships are the silver lining of everything you do as a change leader. Without authentic and effective relationships including a genuine leadership style, your ability to affect change will be challenged.
As a change leader you will rarely have line authority over all the resources you need to marshal within the organization. So, how do you influence in the matrix? Be genuine. An old colleague of mine used to joke that "if you can fake sincerity, you have it made." I always liked the sarcasm in this comment. If you are reading this and you believe it, you might want to check your internal compass. If you chuckle at this comment, YOU GET IT. The comment makes the point, that change leaders need to be genuine. They do this by putting the needs of the business ahead of their own needs, ahead of their political agendas, and ahead of any personal agendas.
Strong relationships bring trust. Trust breaks down walls and brings collaboration forward faster so you can move through issues. Its not easy to stand in front of a stakeholder and say "we made a mistake" whether you are on the business or IT side of the house. However, it has been my experience that when you do this, and the stakeholder responds positively, you have a chance to work it out. If the stakeholder takes your comment and proceeds to use it as a stick to beat you and/or your team down, you are in trouble. In the later case, you do not have the relationship strength you need, and you need to identify the root cause of the gap, then address it genuinely.
Relationships matter. If you find yourself in a plane where they don't, take a look around and determine if you have the elements you need to be successful. As the article above references, relationships contribute to many project failures. What makes you or your environment so unique that relationships DON'T matter?