Relationships Matter

Reasons Relationships Impact Leadership Development

HAS A KID EVER ASKED YOU why they had to learn something in school when they could just Google it? When information is available at the push of a button, what we learn and how we learn it should be reevaluated and reimagined. But as any seasoned educator could tell you, learning is more complicated than completing a few internet searches or watching a couple of YouTube videos. This is even more true when the education needed is a complicated skill set like leadership. Of course, technology has its place, creating efficiencies and simplifying processes, but nothing can replace the power of relationships when it comes to building leaders. The UCO College of Business built its Broncho Business Leaders program, 2B Leaders, on this premise. The program provides faculty and community professionals a way to connect with and mentor some of Central’s top-performing students who have a strong desire to lead. 

Relationships reach the individual. 

No two individuals are exactly alike, which means no two individuals have the same learning needs. Through mentoring, 2B Leaders can help both a student who needs to learn how to speak up and make sure their ideas are heard, as well as a student, who could benefit from learning how to hold back some of their ideas and invite others to contribute. Relationships allow for that important customization of training. 

Relationships present nuanced challenges. 

Alex Wallace was a 2B Leaders student who already worked full time as a manager. While working on a 2B Leaders’ hands-on project, Wallace was surprised by the team’s unwillingness to communicate with him. He learned that without the authority of being their boss, he would need to develop new ways of communicating and motivating the 2B Leaders team. The experience with this new set of people stretched his existing skills, taking his leadership to a new level. 

Relationships hold the key to unlocking self-confidence and untapped potential. 

When Nerza Zambrano was 16 years old, she and her family were granted asylum in the U.S. to escape government upheaval in their home country. Her family started over from scratch without knowing the language. Zambrano was smart, worked hard and did well in school. That academic success earned her scholarships and brought her to UCO, but it wasn’t until she joined 2B Leaders that she realized she could lead others. Upon completion of the 2B Leaders program, she said, “I joined this program for financial help, but I discovered that I’m a leader. I never knew I could do what I have been doing in this program.” To be a leader, you have to believe you’re a leader. 

Relationships foster that belief. 

“Field of Dreams” created the iconic quote “If you build it, they will come.” When we built 2B Leaders, this became our mantra. We asked students, faculty and professionals in our community to give their time and build relationships so true leadership growth could occur. It was a lot to ask. But, similar to the classic movie, students and professionals who understood that relationships matter and that we learn best when we learn from each other have showed up and together built the program into what it is today. If you would like to help develop tomorrow’s leaders and build relationships with our students through personal mentoring in 2B Leaders, email the UCO College of Business at