Skip to content

Relational One-on-Ones


“Organizing is a fancy word for relationship building.”

~ Mary Beth Rogers

We define organizing as leadership that enables people to turn the resources they have into the power they need to make the change they want. Power comes from our commitment to work together to achieve common purpose, and commitment is developed through relationships.

One of the best ways to get to know someone is by understanding their calling, why do they care? What are their resources? And what are their interests? Thus, story of self is a foundational part of relationship building.

There are different ways of exploring relationships and how we build them, in this module we will dig into the relational 1:1’s as a strategic way to build relationships, and understand others.

Mobilizing vs. Organizing

Leadership in organizing is based on relationships. This is a key difference between mobilizing and organizing. When we mobilize we access and deploy a person’s resources, for example, their time to show up at a rally, their ability to “click” to sign a petition (or their signature), of their money. But when we organize we are actually building new relationships which, in turn, can become a source not only of a particular resource, but of leadership, commitment, imagination, and, of course, more relationships. In mobilizing, the “moment of truth” is when we ask, can I count on you to be there, give me $5.00, and sign the petition. In organizing the “moment of truth” is when two people have learned enough about each other’s interests, resources, and values not only to make an “exchange” but also to commit to working together on behalf of a common purpose. Those commitments, in turn, can generate new teams, new networks, and new organizations that, in turn, can mobilize resources over and over and over again.

Leaders must decide how to lead their organization or campaign. Will the glue that holds things together be a command and control model based on coercion? Or will the glue be volunteered commitment? If our long-term power and potential for growth comes more from voluntary commitment, then we need to invest significant time and intentionality in building the relationships that generate that commitment—to each other and to the goals that bring us together. That requires transparent, open and mindful interaction, not closed, reactive or manipulating maneuvers.

Building One-on-One Relationships

Trainer’s video: what is a relational 1:1 and how do we conduct 1:1 meetings?

Relational One-on-One Example

As you listen to this model, think of the 5 steps of 1:1 you have learned. What questions do you hear Sachiko asking? Did it feel like an interview?


Test your knowledge

Which is not a key difference between mobilizing and organizing?