Like a bowling ball rolling down the smoothly waxed lane, relationships help keep you from veering into the gutters!
There’s no question production and expertise are keys to the much-coveted “getting noticed and rewarded as a high-potential” early in your career—it’s just not the name of the game once you seek loftier recognition. The skills and attitudes that one viewed as success-factors early on often work against you.
Think about the C-suite executives in your organization. Are they competent in completing the work you do? Can they produce the results you do?
I doubt it.
As executives enter the upper echelons of organizations, their positional challenges have a ton more to do with wider-ranging capabilities such as communicating concepts and principles—not purely priorities, projects, and tasks.
It has more to do with establishing strategy—not merely completing a “to do” list.
It has more to do with using soft skills to inspire others—not relying exclusively on expertise.
All of these deeds occur more smoothly, with strong relationships facilitating your way.
Women often don’t accept, an executive’s success has more to do with who you know and who knows you than your doingness.
It’s a reality.
A small part of you may persist in thinking: No! It’s about the work. And if it isn’t, it should be! The longer it takes to buy into this premise, the longer your journey to realizing your leadership potential is stretched out—if it ever comes to full fruition.
Even if you intellectually recognize that it isn’t all about work and relationships, it can be challenging to put it into practice.
As you mull over how to implement this concept in your career, consider a client who ran smack dab into lack of relationship and barely missed stumbling permanently.
Aubree is a competent, articulate product development Assistant Vice-president. She was frustrated, struggling to respond to the feedback she received from her boss, the Vice President of Product Management.
I’m infuriated! Daniel told me I need to work on my relationship management skills, she vented to me. Our products are not working reliably for our clients. Yet, when I sit in product meetings with our Senior Leadership team, no one is willing to tell the CIO that her systems issues are killing us! Of course, I may roll my eyes unconsciously when I hear her evasive answers. Margaret clearly doesn’t understand the features and functions our clients expect. I’m supposed to worry about internal relationships?! Give me a break! How is that helping our clients?
Aubree’s inclination is toward getting the job done for her clients rather than focusing on internal company relationships.
She understood relationships all right. Aubree merely identified and related to the external ones more. Daniel’s feedback, to her, was unjust.
She overlooked the value of building internal relationships to boost her leadership presence in the organization, which provides an even better basis for advocating for her clients.
The groundwork for decision-making takes place outside of the “big” meetings where concepts are massaged and discussed, and challenged. The group then gathers to impart their seal of approval officially.
Aubree is viewed as a wild card by not investing in relationships. She seemingly enters meetings wielding a sword of censure—not a useful mindset. If she continues pointing fingers, she will find herself on the outside with no influence at all.
So, are you still judging relationships take too much time away from your real work? Think again. Strategic relationships smooth troubled waters, save time, open doors to the much sought after cross-functional assignments—particularly—the higher you go in the organization!
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