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Jane & Harriet 
New in role leaders are focused on delivering results quickly often at the detriment of building strong relationships and setting themselves and their teams up for success. Here’s some top tips and approaches to suggest you might do things differently. 
Recently, I’ve been working with several senior leaders joining organisations of varying sizes, some founder owned and led and others, large PLCs. These leaders are all experts in what they do and have proven track records. They are also keen to make sure they are seen to be delivering super quickly, and I mean in the first 2-3 weeks! 
What’s the impact of this for them in the long term, and the short term for their team, and why is it more important than ever to support onboarding of your new people leaders? 
I’m an Organisation Development Expert with more than thirty years’ experience coaching leaders and supporting them and their teams through transition and at times of change. 
Organisations spend a significant amount of time and money ensuring they hire the best person for the role. Give them a team, new technology or systems and expect them to get on with it without really checking in on their ability to build meaningful relationships. 
In ‘olden times’ new in role leaders created 100-day plans, built these out (sometimes in collaboration with their team, which helped create engagement and ensure clarity of the direction and vision) and then executed them. More often, I’m now seeing leaders define their own mission, vision, deliverables, and metrics, created without consideration of what has gone before, current culture and the team they have inherited. Then wondering what went wrong when things don’t work out and they aren’t getting the results they want as quickly. 
Whilst this approach enables the new in role leader to position themselves and set out their stall for change, it doesn’t do enough to build relationships, which they will often need to rely on in the future (think key people to socialise radical change with as well as ask for investment, coupled with the level of team engagement etc), it can feel to others that the individual is solely focused on their own success. 
Being able to slow down to go a little faster in the future feels like a thing of the past, despite the late Daniel Kahneman’s offerings in Thinking Fast and Slow. Leaders are on a non-stop go-fast conveyor belt and the pause button is out of reach. Slowing down for a few moments, and I mean moments not months, creates exponential understanding of the business for the leaders and surrounding colleagues and unlocks the success you desire to achieve what you want to. 
Here’s some of my top tips to build great relationships with your team and key colleagues as you move into a new role or the remit of your role changes during transition. 
1. Provide Value With No Conditions 
In our personal lives, we build relationships with individuals based on the give-and-take nature of the relationship. In the business world, leaders are inundated with people wanting something from them. Providing value with no conditions or expectation of return builds business relationships. 
2. Ask Curious, Open-Ended Questions 
Ask curious, open-ended questions that reflect a genuine interest in the other while honouring the boundaries around what acceptable questions within the business context are: “What’s most important in your career?” “What things most energize you?” “Who have been your favourite leaders, and why?” Make sure you listen thoughtfully and then ask clarifying questions to show your genuine interest. 
3. Build Relationships Around Growth 
Everyone in any business needs to grow. Make it a habit to leave everyone better off by building relationships around growth. How can you help them grow? It could be by offering ideas, experiences you have had or acknowledging their way of being. Givers gain; it is that simple. 
4. Be Vulnerable And Authentic Without Compromising Your Power 
While trust, listening and two-way communication are common elements of relationships in any setting, especially in the business world, individuals on opposite sides of the relationship want to appear strong and fully in control at all times. Elements that can make a huge difference are displaying vulnerability and authenticity without compromising on the power equation between the two sides. 
5. Focus On Building Win-Win Relationships 
In the business world, relationships are like currency. The more you have and the better their quality, the wealthier you are. What may be unique is that everyone has an agenda, even if my agenda is just to make a connection with you. Being driven by how relationship-building can be a win-win for both sides is a solid way to reach out. By doing so today, you may be fostering an advocate for tomorrow. 
6. Be Clear On The Intent And Purpose Of Engagement 
Along with studying the culture of the organization, it’s most important to be 100% clear on the intent and purpose of engagement. This clarity is respectful of all involved parties. Transparency of intent creates safety (no hidden agendas or wasting of someone’s time) and an understanding of the correct parameters and rules for the relationship. 
7. Leverage The Three Forms Of Empathy 
Excellent leaders learn and use the three forms of empathy to build meaningful business relationships. The first kind, cognitive empathy, is understanding how others think and using the right language and mental models to connect with them. Emotional empathy is feeling and showing heartfelt concern, which creates rapport. Empathic concern is being motivated to take action to support and help others succeed. 
8. Be Culturally Fluent And Engage In A Timely Way 
Being culturally fluent is key in business. Where a person is from, globally, may determine whether a relationship can be built once a transaction has occurred or if the proverbial “wining and dining” will be required to build a relationship before a business transaction can occur. Either way, for continued business success, the relationship needs to be strengthened with timely engagement. 
9. Strive For Psychological Safety While Honouring Boundaries 
There are many parallels between how we build personal relationships and how we build them in our business lives. One difference is where boundaries lie. People tend to be a bit more guarded at work, sharing less of their personal lives. As a leader, it’s important to strive for an environment where employees feel safe to bring their whole selves to work, but it’s also important to recognise and honour the boundaries they set. 
10. Be Genuinely Curious About People 
What makes someone unique and special? What’s important to them? What stage of life are they in? What drives them? What frustrates them? What do they fear? How do they approach tasks? How do they react to conflict? The more you know about people, the better positioned you will be to build a bridge and connect with them. 
11. Understand That Business Relationships Are Tied To Money 
In the business world, your relationships are tied to performance and money alike. That does not have to be a bad thing at all. I’ve learned the hard way too many times that I needed to gravitate toward people who were happy to refer us, to talk about us kindly and to actively get involved to help our business financially in these ways. Ensuring those people possess your same values and integrity cements the relationship. 
Mayridge Consulting – Naomi Graham (MCC) 
With more than thirty years’ experience, Naomi Graham is an Organisation Development Specialist, executive coach, supervisor and learning & development facilitator. Naomi works with leaders and managers at all levels to develop their confidence, capability and credibility enabling them to build effective teams and delivery value to their organisations. 
Mayridge Consulting offers: 
• Organisation Development 
• Culture, Change and transformation support 
• 121 Executive, Leadership and team coaching 
• Supervision and mentor coaching for credentialing 
• Leadership, management & team facilitation 
Contact Naomi at naomi.graham@mayridgeconsulting.co.uk 
Tel: 07957397222 
Please enter your email address in the box below if you’d like to hear more about upcoming webinars. 
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