“Increasingly, leadership today is defined not just by how many hours you spend at your computer, but your ability to connect to others.”
-Carol Bartz, Former Yahoo CEO and Lisa Lambert, Founder of Upward
I love what these two formidable executive women are saying because so often, we think it is about the hours we put in and how hard we work that counts. If you’re thinking along those lines, you’d be wrong!
Production is considered by many the key to the much-coveted getting noticed and rewarded early in your career focus—it’s just not the name of the game from mid-management and above. If you hold on too tightly, the skills and attitudes one views as your winning formula in the early stages can work against you as your career rises.
One area that becomes more important the higher you go is relationship building. So, think of relationship building as a productivity tip for your career!
For example, more work gets done outside of the big controversial decision meeting than is made inside them. Often these meetings become the place to stamp the seal of approval on resolutions already settled through effective collaborative dialogue before not during!
With a nose to the grindstone mentality, you don’t have time or energy to invest in relationships that build consensus. And you become an uncomfortable wild card. Entering a meeting wielding a sword of certainty ready to convince those attending regarding an issue near and dear to your heart isn’t useful. And it’s not the mindset of the leader you intend to be. If you continue exhibiting this attitude, you’ll find yourself on the outside with no influence at all.
Now, reflect on your C-suite executives for a moment. Are they competent in performing the work you do? Can they produce the results you do?
I’m almost positive—your answer is a resounding, “No!” More often than not, as one enters the upper echelons of an organization, success will have much more to do with your ability to communicate 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 your soft skills to inspire others—not relying exclusively on expertise. And all of these activities occur more smoothly when you have strong relationships behind you.
Oh, yeah, we’re back to relationship building because it is crucial to your success!
No matter their position, a leader, doesn’t produce results in a vacuum, any more than a quarterback completes a pass without a receiver.
There is no service or product created in an organization whose success isn’t ultimately relationship-driven. This skill isn’t merely an added-value. It is essential!
It’s hard to imagine someone rising through the ranks without the ability to build powerful relationships as part of their leadership arsenal, no matter how competent they are. It’s just too tough to navigate without strategic partners throughout the organization, supporting your ideas and career progression.
Cultivating relationships is a skill you need to develop and own from the mid-management point and upward in your career. From then on, it becomes proportionately more vital. And the earlier in your career you invest in these all-important relationships, the sooner you will begin accruing dividends to effectively perform your work responsibilities. Make your ride to the top full of connections, effortless, and satisfying.