The Advisor’s Corner – How can I build relationships with key stakeholders?

Stakeholder relationshipsQuestion:

How can I build relationships with key stakeholders?

StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)

Competition for our time has never, in the history of human kind, been so intense. Yet, if we fail to make time to connect in authentic and meaningful ways with other people, we cannot lead well and our business results will suffer dramatically.

By connecting well, we can discover where we have opportunities for synergy with others. Synergy can be defined as two or more people (or things) functioning together to produce a result NOT independently obtainable. Synergies are important both within and outside our primary workplace. There’s even a new word to describe this when we connect well with our competitors – ‘coopitition’ or ‘coopertition,’ meaning two or more competitors working together to achieve a common goal.

Here are three things you can do to connect and look for opportunities for synergy:

1. Ask don’t tell. Too often people are ‘telling’ others what they think, want, know and feel. Stephen Covey reminds us to “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.” This wisdom comes from the native peoples throughout the world and is found in every scripture known to human kind. Yet, we are often too busy or too focused on our own ‘stuff’ to remember this.

2. Find common ground. When two or more people choose to take the time to look more deeply, they can and will find common ground where they can build a powerful foundation for trust and collaboration. Try this:

  • Seek out things you have in common with others – values, family, books, artwork, background, education, passions, experiences… you’ll find them.
  • When you’ve made a connection, build upon it. Allow yourself to share some vulnerability. This gives others more safety to do the same. The more authentic you are, the more authentic others can risk being with you.
  • Sometimes the best place to grow connection and common ground is with people with whom you disagree. When people have a common goal, a common enemy, or a common dream they can overcome differences in other areas. So next time someone disagrees with you consider saying: “Help me understand why you feel/think the way you do. I would like to learn more about your point of view.”

3. Get out of your chair. This is not a brilliant new idea, but more than ever we get stuck on our computers, notebooks, and phones. When you walk around, notice what people have placed in their workspace that matters to them, pictures, sayings, colors, etc. You will hear conversations you’d never hear otherwise, and you’ll be present. If you go with the intention to observe, connect, and catch people doing something right, and if you are listening, people will begin to look forward to the opportunity to see and interact with you. No time? Think again.

  • Randomly book 30 minutes once or twice a week to wander- with no agenda, no plan, and no goal. Come back to your workspace and write down what you observed and learned. Do not to jump to hasty conclusions – just note your observations and check them out the next week you wander around.
  • Randomly schedule 15-30 minute no agenda ‘chats’ with your employees, peers, others. Meet in their space, for lunch, for a walk around the work site.
  • Call up a few external people every month, to reconnect and keep your network fresh and alive.

Everything we do and how well we do it, in any enterprise, is impacted daily by the quality of our relationships. Building and strengthening our relationship, and finding win/win synergies with all our stakeholders, must be an integral part of every leader’s strategy for success.

About the Author

Leadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.

The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].

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