Successful People Build Strong Relationships With Their Colleagues

Tomorrow is Independence Day in the USA.  Happy 4th of July to all of my readers in the US.  I hope you get a chance to relax and enjoy the long weekend.  Cathy and I are headed for the beautiful Colorado mountains for some rest and relaxation.  But for now, on to today’s thoughts about personal and professional success…

Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to career and life success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things.  First, get to know yourself.  Use this self knowledge to better understand and influence others.  Second, build solid, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in your life.  Third, resolve conflict positively and creatively, with minimal disruption to your relationships.

Yesterday, I shared a story about one of my coaching clients.  Here’s another one…

James was with his company for close to 30 years and was a very senior executive. He had risen through the ranks and was well regarded by almost everyone who knew him. A couple of years ago, he was asked to resign. 

James became the protégé of a senior manager early in his career.  As the manager moved up, James moved up with him. The manager had great faith in James’ business acumen and his problem solving ability. Whenever a problem arose, James’ manager would ask him to “look into it and fix it.”

James enjoyed these challenges. He was smart, and had an uncanny ability to zero in on what was going wrong. He was equally adept at coming up with solutions to problems.

James had a problem though. Most of the time, the problems he was asked to fix were not in his area of responsibility. They were problems that his peers, other people at his level, who reported to his boss, were experiencing. In pleasing his boss and solving problems, James stepped all over the toes of his peers. They came to resent him for it.

One day, his boss left the company. One of James’ peers was appointed to take his place.  Three months later, James was asked to resign. He was asked to resign not because of his performance. In some ways, it was because he was too competent. He was asked to resign because he hadn’t built strong relationships with his peers. Often, by doing what his boss wanted, he alienated the people closest to him. 

James and I began working together on his interpersonal skills.  James came to understand that it was important not only to do a great job and to fix problems, but to do so in a way that did not alienate those around him.

I’m happy to say that James landed a job as President of a small company in his industry.  We still speak.  He tells me that the secret to his newfound success is not only his willingness to work hard but to build and maintain relationships with people at all levels of his company.

James story illustrates an important point about success.  Successful people are interpersonally competent.  They realize that relationships are the key to success.  No one can go it alone and succeed.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are interpersonally competent.  Interpersonally competent people build and maintain strong relationships with the people close to them.  They also resolve conflict in a manner that enhances, not detracts, from these relationships.  If you want to become interpersonally competent put as much effort into building strong relationships with your colleagues as you do in producing good results.  Remember, success depends both on what you do and how you do it. 

That’s my take on the importance of relationships to your success.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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