Three steps to relationship mastery

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leaders blog

In fact, a major factor for the survival of our species over time has been, and continues to be, our ability to connect with and collaborate with others.

So, building strong, collaborative, creatively challenging and trustful relationships could be the most important thing you ever focus on.

Who are the people you need to build strong relationships with?

How about:

  • Your peers
  • Your employees
  • Your boss
  • Your boss’ boss
  • Your customers
  • Your board of directors
  • Your business partners
  • Your suppliers
  • Your contractors
  • Your competitors
  • Politicians
  • Other decisions makers
  • And more…

Yes, the list is potentially long. But don’t let that scare or deter you.

To strategically and carefully consider your stakeholder is not an optional task – it’s one of the most important ones on your list. It’s only by connecting respectfully and genuinely that we can be successful – and we don’t mean successful in a selfish “just for me” kind of way. No, we mean successful in a bigger context, being able to make a difference to something bigger than ourselves; like solving someone’s problem or creating solutions that evolve for the benefit of others over time.

If you currently don’t spend enough time considering how to cultivate those important relationships, here are three steps to help you on your way:

Map out the people you impact and the people that impact you – your stakeholders

Reflect on what they need from you and what you need from them. Then build a plan for what you need to do to meet those needs. Specify how, when and where you will connect and interact with them.

Keep in mind that not all your stakeholders have equal importance, and that’s OK

It doesn’t mean that some people are less important or valuable, but let’s be honest and pragmatic – you won’t have time to give everyone equal attention (nor would you or they want it) so you will need to put more focus on those that have the biggest role in your work reality. Don’t just think short-term here, remember to build relationships for the future too – think long-term too.

Take a genuine interest in these key stakeholders; ask questions to understand them better, listen to them, take the time to create a real connection with them

Connect on the human level by being genuinely interested, not just in a transactional kind of way. Think about how you make them feel, what they experience when they interact with you – think about your impact.

Caring for and carefully managing your stakeholders will help you build the relationships that you are dependent on to enjoy your work as well as deliver great results over time. It’s a fun and meaningful part of everyone’s work and it’s never too soon or too late to start. What step can you take today to lay the foundation for those crucial relationships you need, not just today, but in the future?

Leadership stripped bare

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leaders Blog

“But bosses can pretty much do what they want, that’s what’s so sad”

These were the exact words said by a woman pacing up and down a deserted aisle in the supermarket one evening. She was on her mobile talking to what seemed to be a colleague, based on the contents of their conversation. I didn’t want to eavesdrop but those words spoke volumes about her state of mind and were hard not to hear.

There was a sense of resignation about her comment and her body language that really made me wonder what had happened, specifically. I couldn’t really hang around to listen, but I would have loved to hear more.

As I left the store, I reflected on the impact a leader can have – for better and for worse.

A leader’s responsibility is to lead and operate in such a way that his or her employees can better do their jobs. When leaders do that effectively, they include and involve the people in question rather than just “doing things their own way”.

You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life
Zig Ziglar

I don’t know what happened to the woman in the supermarket, or her boss, but I know that leaders that want to get results should pay heed to the impact they are having on people around them and include people all along the way. Otherwise they may end up with so much resistance that good results become impossible, and everyone loses out.

Leadership stripped bare is quite simple:

  • Share a vision, give direction (so people understand WHY)
  • Involve people in HOW to get there
  • See people (everyone wants to be seen and heard), see and understand the individual
  • Make use of each person’s unique strengths and possible contributions
  • Foster open communication. Never shoot the messenger – if things are going on, you are better off knowing about it!
  • Let go of the need to be right (no-one has all the answers anyway), keep an open mind and encourage others to do the same
  • Follow up and give feedback, so people know how they are doing and that what they are doing matters
  • And be genuine (find your own leadership style that suits you) while always being respectful

It’s not always easy to lead but taking control of your impact makes it easier. Think about how you make people feel. Choose the impact you want to have for the future.

About the authors

Mandy Flint & Elisabet Vinberg Hearn, award-winning authors of ”The Team Formula”.

Their latest book, multi-award-winning ”Leading Teams – 10 Challenges: 10 Solutions”, published by Financial Times International is a practical tool for building winning teams. You can download a free chapter of the book at

Praise for ”Leading Teams: ”Leadership is about effective conversations. This book is a very useful ready reckoner for leaders everywhere seeking the words and methods needed each day at work. Sanjay Gupta, CEO English Helper Inc, India.

Have smart questions not smart answers

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leader’s blog 
If someone asks us a question or asks for our advice, it is amazing how many times we feel that we have to know the answer. Yet sometimes the opposite is true.

The most effective and successful people will not always just give you the answer but will instead ask you really good, smart questions to help you find the answer yourself. When you are given the answer by someone you don’t learn as much as you would if you found that answer for yourself.

We can use Stephen Covey’s insightful thinking:

“Seek first to understand then be understood.”

This may sound like such a simple phrase yet if we apply it, it has a big impact.

If you ask questions you can learn from what the other person is saying and then decide if your answer really was the best answer. Invariably there is a better, enhanced answer after a few open and inviting questions. This allows you to explore more, learn more and indeed get to a better result or solution. It opens you up to be innovative and invites fresh new thinking, which can create new ideas and new thoughts.

As the world moves into more complexity and with even more change ahead, we will find ourselves being a member of many work teams or partnerships where new solutions need to be found. In those constellations we cannot possibly have all the answers or indeed keep up with ALL the changes needed. So we need to work together as a team to find the answers and ask smart questions to get us to the smart answers

For practical tips on asking questions, check out our previous post here

Go ahead give it a go today, be ready with your smart questions and get to even smarter answers.

About the authors

Mandy Flint & Elisabet Vinberg Hearn, award-winning authors of ”The Team Formula”.

Their latest book, multi-award-winning ”Leading Teams – 10 Challenges: 10 Solutions”, published by Financial Times International is a practical tool for building winning teams. You can download a free chapter of the book here.

Praise for ”Leading Teams: ”Enjoyable to read. Simple to understand. Practical to implement. A must read for team members or leadersDebbie Fogel-Monnissen, Executive Vice President, International Markets Finance Officer, Mastercard, NY, USA

It’s OK to turn your back on the audience

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leader’s blog 
Imagine sitting in the audience at a classical music concert, seeing the faces of the musicians but usually only the back of the conductor. In fact, the conductor spends very little time facing you, the audience.

They spend most of their time facing the orchestra, which is effectively their team. They are guiding them to play beautifully and with great impact together.

And have you noticed how perfectly the musicians play together, seemingly unaware of each other, yet clearly very aware as they harmonise with each other through their various instruments, providing their own unique contribution to the music.
And then, once in awhile, the conductor faces the audience and shares what’s going on – what they are doing, what we can expect, what they will or have delivered. And we, the audience, feel seen and well taken care of.

The interaction between conductor and orchestra is a great example of teamwork and leadership. By focusing a large chunk of their time on the team, the conductor helps them work and perform better together than they ever could have done on their own.

You can’t play a symphony on your own!

So take inspiration from the world of music.

If you’re a leader, ask yourself this question: Am I giving the team the focus and guidance they really need to be able to deliver or am I focusing too much of my time outside the team? Are you for example attending meetings all day, hence not having enough time for your team and its needs?

All leadership is of course a balance act; you need to carefully balance all your stakeholders. Do you get the balance right? Are there maybe stakeholders that you give more focus than they need or want? Are there stakeholders that need more focus than they are currently getting?

Take inspiration from the world of music and reflect on how you spend your time as a leader. Give the team enough focus and support so that they can deliver with your guidance and support. Orchestras are also a powerful reminder of how important all team members are.

You can’t play a symphony on your own!