Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships

Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships

by Morag Barrett


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626342422
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 01/05/2016
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 1,269,342
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Morag’s experience ranges from senior executive coaching, to developing high impact teams, to leadership development programs across Europe, America, and Asia. She is a sought-after speaker, trainer, and the founder of SkyeTeam.

With 25 years’ experience in industries around the globe, Morag understands the challenges of running a business and managing people.

Morag has established herself very happily in Broomfield, Colorado, with her husband and three sons. For fun, in addition to time with her family, you’ll find Morag playing in the Broomfield Symphony Orchestra, where she is the principal bassoonist.

Read an Excerpt


The Power of Winning Relationships

By Morag Barrett

Greenleaf Book Group Press

Copyright © 2014 Morag Jennifer Barrett
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62634-242-2


the people side of business

* * *

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.

Oprah Winfrey

We've all worked with people we find irritating: the person with an ego so huge the office has to install double doors to accommodate his or her super-sized head; the colleague who just can't stop talking about anything but work; or the poor soul who's desperate to share complaints every day.

One approach might be to avoid these people at all costs, but what if they're your boss or your peer? You'll need to spend a considerable amount of time in meetings with them, or working side-by-side, and your success will be intertwined with theirs.

Working with people who drive you nuts is exhausting and can, unfortunately, impact your attitude and performance. Emotions are infectious. Relationships are emotional.

Think about it. Have you ever walked into a room and just sensed, without talking to anyone, that something was up? Our emotional intelligence enables us to pick up on these clues, discriminate between them, and use this information to inform our thinking and actions to impact our behavior.

Being the smartest person in the room (IQ) is no longer (and may never have been) enough to ensure long-term success; technical skills and knowledge only contribute part of the equation. Emotional intelligence (EQ or EI), or people skills, is as important, if not more so, than IQ.

Emotional intelligence is the capacity for effectively recognizing and managing our own emotions and those of others. We can either leverage emotions to make the most of our important business and personal relationships or ignore them with potentially damaging results. In his book Working with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman discusses four emotional intelligence skills, grouped under two main categories: personal competence and social competence.

Personal competence includes the following qualities:

• Self-awareness — how accurately you can identify your emotions in the moment and understand your tendencies across time and situation.

• Self-management — how you use awareness of your emotions to create the behavior that you want.

Once you have begun to master yourself, you can then move on to the qualities of social competence:

• Social awareness — how well you read the emotions of other people.

• Relationship management — how you use the first three emotional intelligence skills to manage your interactions with other people.

When I am working with teams, I will ask participants to identify three colleagues, bosses, peers, or subordinates, they would jump at the chance to work with again. We then explore what made these people memorable. Certain characteristics are mentioned again and again:

• They saw me as an individual; they cared about me.

• They connected with me as a person.

• They made time for me and listened to my ideas and suggestions.

• They gave me constructive feedback.

• They made me feel valued.

• They challenged me to deliver outstanding results.

What stands out is that the majority of the qualities are interpersonal — about how the person interacted with them, as well as the values he or she demonstrated. While we may recall how smart someone was, what people remember is the ability to connect with someone as a person, as a human being, and not simply as an employee, functional expert, or vendor.

If It Ain't Broke

Many of us understand the philosophical importance of relationships but struggle to put that understanding into action. I get plenty of agreement with these early concepts. However, when I ask, "How much time are you investing in cultivating winning relationships?" very few can say they devote deliberate effort.

Relationships are assumed to be effective until proven otherwise. Neutral relationships are valued as positive, when in fact the opposite is true.

Focus is on the task at hand, the "what needs to be done," and little or no time is devoted to the people side of "how we will get the task done." Success is measured in terms of individual results and individual contribution. Unfortunately, this approach actually sabotages our business goals!

The "me first" attitude is not surprising when you consider that our educational system reinforces this mindset. From the time you begin school, all the way through high school and college, there's a focus on graduating in the top X percent of your class by outperforming enough of your classmates. It's all about individual effort, and ultimately, individual success. Even where group projects are assigned, there is little time devoted to teaching effective team collaboration. So few have been taught the skills needed to work well with others, to hear alternative points of view, and to discuss differing viewpoints to increase understanding.

When we move from school to the workplace, this individualistic approach continues. We spend most of our time early in our careers developing our technical expertise, which is typically how we (and others) assess our value within an organization. As you progress through your career, the quality of your relationships has a greater impact on your success than your individual accomplishments. The ability to achieve results with others is your most valuable skill.

An inability to work well with others invariably leads to the stalling of careers or, even worse, implosion. An inability to "play well with others" will damage your reputation and long-term career success, no matter how many letters you have after your name, how many years of experience you have, or what your title is.

Organizations are full of examples of people who were technically competent and thus promoted up the ladder to manage others. Many times, these individuals are not provided with coaching, support, or training to understand that managing others requires a whole new set of skills — and a new mindset! As a result of this "sink or swim" approach to leadership development, many of these individuals self-destruct. No one wanted them on the team, or they were so quiet that no one recognized the value of what they brought to the table. This is an example of the "Peter Principle" or "Sheldon Syndrome" — a high IQ with low emotional intelligence.

Book Smart not People Smart

Mark was used to being the smartest guy in the room. He was always quick to volunteer his opinion, first to speak, and kept talking, dominating the conversation. Meetings with his peers were tense, and projects were not running smoothly. Instead of being a go-to guy, he was a go-from guy.

Mark was oblivious to this. He relished the "smart" image he had built up. After all, his technical knowledge brought him the promotion to head of his department. His promotion finally revealed what his team knew: he delivered results ... alone, at the cost of relationships across the company and within his department.

Mark had known things were tense, he hadn't realized that he was the problem. As our team shared the framework for identifying and cultivating relationships, he realized his intentions and actions were way out of sync.

Through coaching, we explored ways for Mark to adjust his behavior and approach — asking questions vs. telling, allowing others to talk first before offering his opinion, spending time getting to know his critical stakeholders, and asking them what they needed from him to help them be successful.

It was a rapid transformation. Relationships became more open and trusting. Mark's mid-year review evaluation was the best he had ever received. A 360 Feedback report completed during his coaching confirmed the change in approach was reaping benefits, not just for Mark but for his colleagues too.

One peer said, "He's so much more approachable ... he listens to others' views ... I feel more able to collaborate and work with him."

Why Fail?

Few leaders fail because of a lack of technical ability. Leaders fail because they do not cultivate effective working relationships across the organization. They do not have the ability to influence others to get results.

Think back through your own career, as you watched others rise or fail. When careers derail, it's not usually about expertise; it's usually because of mismanaged relationships. Let's be clear: knowledge of your industry is important and critical to your ability to talk credibly, anticipate problems, and contribute effectively to discussions. However, these skills are the minimum entry-level requirement that gets you a seat at the table. Your ability to build and maintain high-quality relationships will grow your success, and your team's success, to the next level of performance. This is the game changer that will accelerate your success. You deserve to invest here!

Interestingly enough, even when formal leadership development is provided, the results are not always beneficial. The American Society of Training and Development's 2012 industry report indicated that American businesses alone spent a staggering $156 billion on employee learning and development. This is a phenomenal investment, especially when reports go on to suggest that nearly two-thirds of organizations report that senior managers are deficient in management and leadership skills and even more indicate that line managers and supervisors lack these skills.

* * *

Managers spend between 70 and 90 percent of their time working with others ... a wasted opportunity if it is not coupled with deliberate attention to developing relationships.

* * *

We teach people how to delegate, project manage, and give annual reviews, but we don't teach people how to intentionally improve working relationships.

According to John Kotter, the average (general) manager spends approximately 25 percent of his or her time working alone. Most spend between 70 and 90 percent of their time working with others, whether attending meetings, ad hoc gatherings, or formal employee gatherings, or responding to individual questions and requests for help.

This is reaffirmed in the work I do with senior leaders and teams; all this interaction is a wasted opportunity without deliberate and focused attention on developing effective working relationships.

In an attempt to manage schedules and the numerous demands on a leader's time, most meetings and interactions become purely transactional processes, destined to be average and deliver average results.

Whether you are a senior leader in an organization or an individual contributor, most professional relationships fail to move beyond this mechanical arrangement. It seems to be easier that way. It's about, "How can you help me in my current role or project?" with little attention focused on getting to know the other person, or how we can help them.

This is a shortsighted approach. To cultivate a winning relationship means that we take each relationship to the next level and build a personal connection, seeking to understand what motivates the person, what fears may be holding them back, how our individual styles are similar or different, and the implications for working together to deliver an outstanding result. Without this personal connection, collaboration, candor, and healthy competition are stifled. Shared learning and warnings of impending disaster are also curtailed, and competition potentially becomes destructive. Business relationships determine business success.

Social Workplace Bonds

In an article, the Harvard Business Review found that social bonds were the major predictor of team success. The other two were "initiatives to strengthen relationships" and "leaders who invest the time to build strong relationships with their teams."

If team success (and individual success) is dependent upon social bonds, then it would follow that spending time getting to know the team members and articulating the rules of engagement for the team would be a good investment of time, right?

Creating these social bonds is much easier said than done. With the advancement in technology, email has become ubiquitous, to the point of actually undermining performance!

In a recent program presented by my team, leaders reported they each received several hundred emails a day. While email may be keeping leaders tied to their desktops, or with their smartphones permanently available twenty-four hours a day, it is also preventing the creation of meaningful connections and relationships at work.

I've experienced this in a large telecommunications firm, where an egalitarian approach backfired. We were a company of cubicles. You could walk corridors but not see anyone. People used email to chat with team members twenty feet away, and we wondered why there wasn't a real bond!

Contrast this with a working environment that was completely open: no walls, no hiding, and no excuses. Team members could simply raise their heads and talk to the person next to them. It led to a much different environment, where camaraderie and team relationships flourished. Don't get me wrong, we still needed "quiet time" away from the hubbub of the office and a private office to hold confidential conversations when needed. I am not suggesting you start knocking down walls to build relationships (although now that I think of it — yes I am — the metaphorical walls that prevent us from getting to know the person in the next office). My experience in both of these environments shaped my credo: "Get off your butt and go talk to someone!"

Even when teams get together to plan how they'll achieve a goal, many times they simply go through the motions of creating working agreements, clarifying goals and roles, only to promptly ignore them when they get back to their desks. Time is of the essence (emails continue to demand attention). And the perception that building relationships is "soft and fluffy" leads us to undervalue the time to focus on the interpersonal side of business.

I remember being told early in my finance career, "This is a business; there is no place here for emotions or personal connections." With such a philosophy it's little wonder that trust within teams declined and the confidence in the team leader was diminished. We all know when the rules of engagement have been broken. We sit in meetings drumming our fingers, clenching our teeth in frustration. We vent to our families and friends, but we remain silent at work.

We don't air our concerns for fear of the repercussions, or for fear of making an already stressful situation worse. We justify and excuse the situation because no one else is speaking up. We believe it is the way it has to be, and we don't want to go against the grain. We avoid the tough conversation with the very people who could effect change — our colleagues — and even ourselves.

Invariably, the inability to "talk it out" causes the situation to worsen until the relationship is so damaged there is little hope for reconciliation, at which point one or both parties leave the organization. You've seen it happen — perhaps in your own career.

Rules of Engagement

Asking for what you need to be successful at the start of each relationship or project (or renegotiating your needs for existing relationships) means you can more easily course correct when things go off track. Notice I said when, and not if ! A proactive approach is the only option.

I've had the opportunity to work for managers (and with colleagues) who assumed I could read their minds, only to have them come down on me like a ton of bricks when my sixth sense fizzled. And I've been guilty of this myself.

Early in my banking career, there was lots of travel. On one occasion, my itinerary took me near the home of my parents, so I decided to stay overnight there rather than make the hundred-mile round trip required to return the next day. My boss didn't trust her team, and she made a habit of checking up on us. It got to the point where I would arrive at a branch and the manager would laugh and let me know that my boss had checked in on me already. On this occasion, my phone rang just as I arrived at my parents' house, an hour before the end of the workday.

"Where are you?" asked the prosecution. I gave an update of my activities and added, "I am staying overnight with my parents, and I'm reading some of the latest business books on —"

"That's not your job!" my boss barked.

Message received. I was stunned and burst into tears soon as soon as I hung up the phone. I remember discussing the situation with my dad, seeking his advice on what to do next. Together we talked through the options, how to start the conversation to bring positive change in the working relationship. I may not have realized it then, but it was another pivotal moment in writing this book.


Excerpted from Cultivate by Morag Barrett. Copyright © 2014 Morag Jennifer Barrett. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Foreword xiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 The People Side of Business 9

Chapter 2 Identifying Your Critical Relationships 22

Chapter 3 The Relationship Ecosystem™ - The Big Picture 36

Chapter 4 The Heart of the Model 45

Chapter 5 The Ally Mindset 60

Chapter 6 Ally Relationships 73

Chapter 7 Supporter Relationships 85

Chapter 8 Rival Relationships 94

Chapter 9 Adversary Relationships 105

Chapter 10 Emotional, Intelligent, or Both? 114

Chapter 11 Generations at Work 135

Chapter 12 Why Relationships Turn Sour 145

Chapter 13 Speaking Up: Four Strategies 151

Chapter 14 Your Conversational Plan 167

Chapter 15 Your Most Important Ally 175

Chapter 16 Questions and Conversation Starters 187

Appendix Endnotes 193

Bring Cultivate to your organization 195

Keynote 196

Workshop 197 People. Leadership. Results. 199

About The Author 201

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