Three steps to relationship mastery

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leaders blog

Team of diverse young businesspeople in meeting
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 www.leadingteamsbook.com

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 herehttp://wearethecity.in/future-leaders-questions/

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!

You are unique!

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 herehttp://wearethecity.in/future-leaders-questions/

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 have an attitude

From WeTheCity’s Future Leaders blog

Your attitude matters. In life, at work, in leadership.

Attitude, perspective, approach, outlook – whatever we call it – it changes or impacts everything.

Imagine if something unexpected or even unwanted happens. What if you ‘failed’ at something, or even lost your job, or you simply didn’t meet your goal?

We can’t control things that happen, that’s a given. What we can control though is our attitude. We can choose our outlook and perspective on what has happened.

This may sound obvious and simple, but yet, when we really need that attitude, we don’t always look for it. We get stuck in the ‘automatic’ reaction of anger, sadness, disappointment or sense of failure. The key word here is to go look for the attitude. It’s definitely a choice and that choice can be made at any time, in any situation, whatever we are facing.

And an easy way to look for it and find it, is to be prepared with an attitude, a thought, a mantra if you like, which can promptly get you on the right path of taking the next step to progress, success and results.

Here are a few examples that have helped us keep an optimistic attitude in challenging situations:

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn” – Anonymous

“It’s all happening perfectly” – Susan Jeffers PhD

“When things go wrong, don’t go with them” – Elvis Presley

Yes, our attitude is everything. Being able to look at any situation and find something good or at least valuable in it is a question of choosing our attitude to it.

We have met so many people who have been disappointed or sad or angry when something happened and who have later on realized that it was the best that could have happened to them.

  • People who have failed at something and then realised that they never would have come up with that brilliant new idea unless they had failed and had been forced to rethink.
  • People who have lost their job and then understood that it was the push they needed to take the long overdue step of doing something new that they had wanted to do for a while but not dared to do.
  • People who have experienced conflict within their team and realised that it made them take a new approach to collaboration, leading to better team climate and better results.

Some of the best leaders we have ever met are extremely good at this. And as we are really keen for leaders to get ready for the future – do you think this a crucial ability to have? So do we. So many things will not go our way – it’s part of change – but our way of looking at it is ALWAYS ours to choose.

Yes, attitude is everything, and one of the few things in life completely within our own control – if we choose to take that control.

So go on, have an attitude! You’ll like it.

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 www.leadingteamsbook.com

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

Everyone is a leader


WeAreTheCity’s Future Leaders blog

You may aspire to be a leader or you may already have a leadership role.

Regardless of what your official role is, what we know is that you influence and have an impact on people every day. And you are therefore a leader. In fact, many of the most influential leaders in the world are informal leaders. They are the people that that others listen to, and also feel heard and seen by.

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Leadership is not really something you learn in a classroom. Yes, you can learn useful principles, acquire relevant models and tools that can help you practice leadership, but real leadership development occurs when you start to apply your knowledge in your daily work situations. It’s how you act and behave that builds your leadership effectiveness and influence.

Yes, leadership is most definitely about influencing others. To influence is to have an impact. And impact happens through how you behave towards others.

What impact are you having? And what impact could you have?

Being leaders ourselves, and having worked with many hundreds of leaders around the world, here are some of our observations of what the best, most influential leaders do. They:

  • Take an interest in and care about other people
  • See the uniqueness in each person and how they can contribute to the team and the organisation
  • Listen attentively to others
  • Stay 100% present in the moment
  • Involve others and invite them to contribute and participate in things that impact them
  • Recognise when people do a good job
  • Hold themselves and others accountable
  • Practice what they preach
  • Convey a clear sense of purpose and vision for the team
  • Are generous in sharing their knowledge, skills, ideas and wisdom
  • Are authentic, they stay true to themselves, making the most of their unique strengths and capabilities

This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives a number of pointers on how influence works.

We would love to hear from you.

What are the best experiences you’ve had with leaders around you? How did they behave and how did it impact you? What great leadership have you seen?

Please share your thoughts, observations and comments below. Thank you.

Performance reviews or not? Time for change?

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leaders blog

There are a lot of discussions going on at the moment regarding annual appraisals and whether they should be performed at all.

Sadly appraisals are often ineffective and something people dread, both the person appraising and the one being appraised!

Now the idea behind the review is of course to look at how it’s going for each person at work, (and we do all need feedback!), plan for the future and assess development opportunities – and to make sure that this happens for everyone and at a regular interval.

“Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.”Ed Batista

Looking towards the future though, as we like to do in this blog, we believe the process for development will change.

Let’s think about it.

As a leader it’s your job to enable others to do a great job. It’s about leading in such a way that people can perform their jobs well. If we start with that in mind, then any feedback conversations need to happen regularly, in real time, not just once or twice a year. If someone is struggling at work for example, that needs to be picked up and dealt with a.s.a.p.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”Elon Musk

It’s of course better to have an annual performance review than to have nothing at all, but we are also seeing that more and more organisations, like GE, Accenture and Netflix, recognise that performance leadership and management can be done in better ways.

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”Harvey S. Firestone

Yes, it’s part of a leader’s job to help people grow and develop, for the benefit of the people themselves and for the organisation. In order to do this, organisations and leaders of the future must continue to build better relationships with their employees; listen more, talk more, engage more, have creative, meaningful conversations about work. Not only is it a great way to connect with people, but it also delivers results. People want transparency and clarity, and to feel that they are involved in their own future. This happens best in a workplace where there’s a real sense of working together, which those regular conversations help create. And this is something you can make a reality, as a leader.

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 www.leadingteamsbook.com

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

Inspire hope

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leader’s blog

Hope is a great fuel of human drive and determination. As a leader, to inspire hope in others, and of course yourself, is one of your most important tasks.

The future may seem unclear or uncertain at times – that’s only to be expected with the constant change that is part of reality at work. What you can do as a leader is to continuously look for the opportunities and possibilities of the future, to rally people around those and to give them hope that obstacles can be overcome and maybe even a trigger for something better.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence

Helen Keller

Here are some practical tips on how to inspire hope

  • Frame all challenges/problems as a blessing in disguise. Encourage conversations that explore how addressing the problem can lead to something better.
  • Instead of thinking of what could go wrong, ask yourself “what could go right”? And ask your team the same.
  • Build a plan to overcome the problem or each obstacle (together with your team if possible). Get specific about what to do and when.
  • Get some quick wins in, by focusing on one thing at a time.
  • Recognise and value the wins, showing people that progress is being made – this creates more hope and determination.
  • Make creative challenging part of your team’s DNA. Take time at regular intervals to talk about changes that are coming up and how you jointly, with all the wisdom, experience and ideas of the team can solve anything that needs solving.

And finally, if people tend to worry about things that may or may not happen in the future, remind them that 95% of things we worry about never happens anyway! Worrying is waste of time – come together and look to the future with curiosity and creativity.

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 www.leadingteamsbook.com

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