Leadership is the ability to influence how people think and feel to the point they take responsible and decisive action. Developing your leadership skills, therefore, requires developing effective influence skills. Since influence is based on credibility, it means that you must build relationships to both sell your ideas and lead others effectively. Additionally, building relationships with the right people also enables you to take control of your professional development.
Who are the right people with whom you should build relationships?
Whether as a team leader or team member, you have a responsibility to build relationships with a group of individuals where success—both theirs and yours—is interdependent. This goes far beyond cooperation. This is about mutual respect and trust forged through on-going contact, the type of relationship where you can depend on them and them on you to get the job done.
These are colleagues in other organizations with whom you interact with most often on tactical issues and goal achievement. On any given day you can find yourself linked with a chain of partners based on the critical path of a project or initiative that you are responsible for. These interactions range from a simple request of needing specific information to seeking guidance and counsel on a more complex issue.
Since your effectiveness is based on their responsiveness, it means that without a solid working relationship your request is…just a request, one more “to do” on someone else’s list. Need something? Pick a number, get in line. However, by taking the time to forge personal relationships with critical business partners—not just through the meetings or conference calls that throw you together on any given day—people are more willing to help you get what you need.
But there is more required to make these relationships effective—reciprocity. There is an expectation that as others help you, so you help others. Building relationships with these individuals is what makes you true partners rather than requestor and requestee. Your ability to help others succeed also helps you succeed. This needs to be a 24/7 process, something that you build into your weekly routine. Take a look at your schedule for next week and schedule in one person to meet with to build this relationship.
Strategic resources come in two groups of people:
- Those important to longer term objectives, and
- Those important to your career success.
There are people in different organizations for whom you want to be a known quantity. They may not be in the critical path of a project or objective that you’re attached to, at least not yet. They are, however, people that you want to know because of their importance to the business. These individuals need to be part of a broader network that you’re developing, the important but not urgent people that you need to get to know and they get to know you.
The second group of strategic resources is those individuals who can be helpful for your career. These are often more senior in the organization. You seek them out not only for their knowledge and experience, but also because of their reputation and image. Introduce yourself when you see them in the cafeteria. Ask your manager or consult your network to find a way to interact with them on a strategic business initiative. Perhaps they would be willing to serve as a mentor or coach. Empower them to give you counsel and advice about future opportunities. You might be amazed at how many senior level executives who appreciate someone taking the initiative to seek them out for guidance.
Building relationships is something well within your control. All businesses are people businesses. Make the time to build relationships with the right people, then take the time to do it. Think reciprocity. It’s what makes the world go round.Share this: