Are you a relationship builder or destroyer? A confluence of issues centers and emanate on the intricacies of being a relationship builder (transformational) or the inherent obliteration of being transactional (the void of the building or sustaining of a relationship).

While there is certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with being transactional (quid pro quo – a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something), transformational relationships are based on being relational and both parties gaining a deeper, reflective, and more meaningful relationship.

Articulating the transformational aspects of relationships, noted author, Helen Keller, stated, “Love always cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.”

Stated another way, Yolanda Hadid expressed, “When done with heart, commitment, and integrity, every job is equally important.”

Therefore, relationships are infused with the understanding of transforming the relationship. And consequently, bringing forth a deeper appreciation for mutually beneficial values and meanings, which allow both parties to prosper.

However, in today’s fast-paced and disposable society, where our attention span is concentrated into 15-second sound bites, transformational relationship building is at an all-time low. Politicians are more concerned with being politically correct than building sustainable and transformational relationships. Some organizations are more concerned with profits over people, and in general, we as a civil society, have devolved into transactional relationships where the focus is on getting more and offering less.

Taking this heightened transactional development into consideration, a compelling article was written by Payam Banazadeh titled, “How to Create Transformational Relationships instead of Transactional.” I will highlight some of his salient points and then add my comments in parentheses on how to add this to your leadership domain.

In a rapidly changing world, Payam asserted, “I believe there are two kinds of relationships, the transactional and the transformational. One is out of necessity and the other is out of desire. One has a clear demand and request with an expectation of return and the other is open-ended with no expectation other than to give. One of the key catalyzers to my personal growth and development has been to limit my transactional relationships and add depth and breadth to my transformational ones.”

If indeed, transactional relationships are centered and optimized around one’s ability to garner the most you can, while exchanging little or nothing in return, it is no wonder why our society has morphed from service-to-others to one of a transactional exchange. At best, this ego-centric transaction only benefits those pursuing it at the expense of others.

As further delineated by Banazadeh, he argued that we should move to a transformational relationship in which we optimize the advancement of each other’s goals.

For the proposed explanation, how do we become more focused on building transformational relationships, rather than the ego-driven transactional ones? Banazadeh offers the following suggestions.

1. No expectations: (If transactional relationships are based on expectations, then the reverse must be true for transformational relationships. The transformational practitioner must have no expectations, rather, they must focus on the clarity of the issues, and have the one central notion of being “present” in the relationship by focusing solely on giving when they can, and to receive with appreciation if given the opportunity. This ideology elevates the transformational relationship to the next level.)

2. Be real: (Being real equates to being transparent and having no hidden agendas. Speak the truth, define the situation, and embrace the win-win scenario. Being real and transparent will bring forth unparalleled consequences to the relationships you are pursuing. In the process, this will create a mutually beneficial form of trust, which can be used as steppingstones to build more meaningful and sustainable connections.

3. Create protections: (When we feel safe, we are more willing to enter transformational relationships. If indeed transactional relationships center on self-serving agendas, which translate into the opportunity for rejections and, thereby, force both parties to minimize threats, the relationship is stagnated. Therefore, when we are authentic and seek mutually beneficial solutions and opportunities, the risk of being hurt is minimized and both parties can fully pursue win-win scenarios.)

4. Get uncomfortable: (Ask uncomfortable questions that are genuine and make people think about the issues or the relationship. Both parties are enabled by this process by understanding difficult, uncomfortable, and even taboo subjects, which are not normally protected in a transactional relationship. Thereby, allowing both parties to forge a bond to create a safer and more comfortable environment and consequently, move to the next level of the transformational relationship.)

In this context, transformational relationships are at the epicenter of change, making you better, creating a larger pie and producing sustainable relationships. Conversely, limit your transactional relationships and move to a higher state of purpose by serving others.

Finally, recognizing the differences in being transactional versus transformational, Banazadeh leaves us with three compelling questions?

1. How many of your relationships are transformational?

2. How transformed are you by those relationships?

3. How transformed would the world be?

We would all be wise to heed this maxim as illustrated by Michael W. Smith, who stated, “Transformation in the world happens when people are healed and start investing in other people.”

What are you waiting for?

Dr. Edward Piatt, Ed.D., is a retired manager from the state of Illinois with 32 years of frontline leadership experience. He is an adjunct professor of business in the MBA and MOL programs at Olivet Nazarene University, and a doctoral advisor and adjunct doctoral professor at Trevecca University. He is also an organizational/economic development consultant and lectures frequently on Emotional Intelligence (EI), organizational culture, and leadership. You may contact him at

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