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NEW Academy brings rapport to the workplace

Friday, April 1, 2016  
Posted by: Rufino Cabang
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"It's hard for someone to shun you or avoid you if they believe that you truly care," Kimberly Scardino, chief accounting officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., told 350 NEW members online for the NEW Leadership Academy webinar "Powering Up Your Workplace Relationships," March 31, 2016.

Scardino joined Carla Patterson, vice president at Nestlé Purina PetCare, and session leader Jo Miller, CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching Inc., to share advice on developing people skills, moving past conflict and transforming workplace relationships.

For Patterson, leadership doesn't always mean seniority. "My ability to influence is almost entirely based on my personal and relational power."

Scardino agreed, urging professionals to "build a list of important leaders throughout the company to 'meet and greet.'"

"Be human," Patterson said. "Take time to ask people how they're doing, outside of work. And show a little bit about yourself."

"Make it a top priority to build rapport with your peers," Scardino said.

Building character is essential to building relationships, according to Patterson, who advised listeners to be open-minded, solution-oriented and "follow through on your commitments. My dad would say all the time, 'Do what you say you're going to do.'"

"Composure is a critical leadership characteristic," Scardino said, noting that there will be times when a leader has to "take a deep breath and count to 1,000."

Course correction

Relationships off to a rocky start can be corrected — but it may take time. "Sometimes it takes years to re-build or develop a relationship," Scardino said.

Patterson offered four steps for cleaning the slate on a faulty workplace relationship:

  • Take away the emotion
  • Confront the issue
  • Propose changes going forward
  • Move on

Scardino shared words of caution for dealing with a negative situation: "Never, ever send an emotional email about it."

Workplace relationships, particularly among groups, need not be perfect but understood. "When you’re bringing groups together, distinguish nice-to-haves from must-haves. Not everything is critical to everyone," Patterson explained.

Workplace success is a combined effort, according to Scardino. "Careful planning, compassion and the desire to move forward together is essential."

NEW members may register online for the next NEW Leadership Academy webinar, "Breaking the Rules," June 2 at 1 p.m. ET, for free. Members may view previous NEW Leadership Academy webinars in the NEW Study Hall.

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