After 15 years climbing the ladder in commercial finance, Morag Barrett had an ah-ha moment: Numbers are only part of the equation, she realised. If you can’t get the people around you to support you and your strategy, you won’t succeed.
“Business is personal, and relationships do matter,” says Barrett, the founder of leadership development firm SkyeTeam and author of new book “Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships.” “This is a team sport. You are dependent on others for your success.”
There are four types of people in your business life, she says. An ally has your back no matter what. A supporter is on your side until the going gets tough. A rival competes with you for promotions, resources, or even the boss’s attention. And adversaries either covertly or publicly seek to undermine you.
Barrett believes you should approach your work relationships with an “ally mindset,” transforming the people around you into allies who want to help you. And while it’s highly improbable that you could turn everyone into an ally, she says you should start by gaining one, and then take it from there.
How do you do it? “One conversation at a time,” says Barrett. “Don’t wait for others to initiate.” She recommends showing generosity and collaborating with coworkers rather than hoarding resources, being honest and open so they’re able to trust you, and following through on the promises you make to show you can be counted on.
“All the time, I watch people leave the cafeteria with their trays and eat at their desks,” she says. “Go up to someone, and ask to sit down. Start a conversation.”
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