I was recently on a Panel and was asked what did I consider one of the most important professional skills that any manager could have? Without hesitation I said ‘knowing how to make relationships work.’ Why? Because ultimately, being a manager is about managing people. The same applies to leaders. The most effective leaders know how to engage people and that means knowing how to have a relationship with them.
So there is a real question here for anybody who wants to progress professionally, namely, do you know how to make relationships work with peers, subordinates and with those above you? They’re all relationships but often people are better at doing one of these than the others.
Even if they are good at all of them, I have yet to meet someone who couldn’t be better. And how about taking these skills home too? Why leave them at the office? Your family might appreciate them!
Being able to start and maintain good relationships is obviously one of the keys to professional success. If you can’t do that that then you just get peoples’ backs up and it’s very hard for them to take you seriously. It also makes it hard for them to collaborate with you. But it is also really important for your personal happiness. Why? Because when we relate well we feel real, we feel valued and we feel understood. We also act differently – we are more ourselves.
When this is not happening all sorts of things begin to unravel. In the case of professionals if you don’t relate well you can pay dearly for it through lost credibility and lost promotion. I’ve worked with many people who had great technical expertise but were seen as a liability when it came to customer relations. Kept in the back room their careers were suffering and they would have stayed there if not for the coaching we did.
In our personal lives being able to relate authentically is obviously important. And it’s not just about being with someone. You can be living with someone but that doesn’t mean you’re relating well to them. I’ve certainly worked with people who describe feeling pretty lonely as they look across at ‘the stranger at the breakfast table’.
For me, one of the pleasures of working with people has been developing the tools to start and maintain great relationships because there are real things you can do.
Pretty much any relationship can be enhanced. I have worked with couples where things are actually pretty good and they want them to be great. Now that is of a different order. Can you make a good relationship great? Yes you can!
What about future relationships? Can you prepare now to make them work? Of course!
Knowing how to do these things is a practical skill. There are some very important how tos that go with knowing how to make relationships work.
Because of this I’ve decided to commit to doing a day in the autumn to share with people some of the tools I use which help ensure relationships work. So if you’re interested for yourself or for others in ‘How to Make Relationships Work’ I’ll look forward to seeing you then.
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