Advocates and derailers: Who’s in your corner?
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Posted by: Barbara Francella
By Neena Newberry
As you advance in your career, your success becomes more
tied to the quality of your relationships, because leaders have to get things
done with and through others. The key to moving ahead? Identify your most
important relationships and improve the ones that are a little rocky.
First, ask yourself: Among key stakeholders in the company,
who really impacts your ability to get results? Remember their influence may be
through formal power that comes with their position or informal power as an
opinion leader in your organization. Make a list of these individuals, putting
them into one of three categories: high, moderate or low impact.
Next, consider their level of supportiveness toward you and
your goals. Who is an advocate, who is neutral and who could be a derailer?
Confirm your assessments with people you trust — especially individuals who can
give you insight based on direct interaction. Once you have completed this
exercise, identify who has a high impact on your results and who is either
neutral or a potential derailer. If you identify several people, choose two or
three to focus on first.
It’s important to understand that some of these individuals
may have formed their perceptions about you through others, not through direct
experiences with you. For example, a few months ago, one of my clients learned
that a key executive wanted her out of the company, even though he had never
worked with her. Through coaching, she turned his perception around by
consistently demonstrating her value, building a strong leadership brand and
developing stronger authentic relationships with his trusted advisors. That
same executive is now a strong supporter, although the level of direct
interaction with my client is still minimal.
Now, armed with your list of priority relationships, how do
you make the rocky ones better? These three strategies are a good start:
- Have the
right mindset. The number-one thing you can do to improve a relationship is
to start from a place of acceptance. I realize that can be tough when you
dislike certain things about someone’s behavior or how she deals with you. If
you expect her to show up as she always has, it will be less of a derailer in
your conversation. Just contemplate what would happen if you approached her
without expecting that anything will change, and with the assumption that she’s
doing the best she can.
common ground. Take the time to consider what’s most important to the other
person. Look for clues in how he invests his time, what he says and does. What
overlaps with what is important to you? Even if you dislike each other
personally, you can improve your interactions by emphasizing where you are
aligned — whether it’s your
passion for growing the business or interests you have outside of work.
triggers. Take a few minutes to consider the other person’s hot buttons.
For example, if she gets defensive every time she hears "no” or other words
that sound like resistance or disagreement, how can you rephrase your message?
("Yes, I understand, and let’s also consider …”)
I want to challenge you to identify at least one high-priority
relationship and one step you will take to strengthen it.
Newberry is an executive coach, speaker and author who helps women "think and
play big." A recognized expert with appearances on CBS, ABC, Fox News and
Fortune Magazine, she received four Stevie Awards for Women in Business in
2014. A former Deloitte executive, Neena is
president of Newberry Executive Solutions and
teaches at Southern Methodist University Cox Executive Education.
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comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions
of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate