4 - Causes of Derailment (free pixabay)

Top 3 Causes of Executive Derailment

What do you think are the top three reasons that careers stall at the Executive level?
Well, they might surprise you…
  1. Difficulty in handling change
  2. Not being able to work well in a team
  3. Poor interpersonal relationships

And what do all of these issues have in common?

Each of them is linked to the skill of Relationship Management (the fourth and final skill we’ll cover as part of my Emotional Intelligence series.)

In a nutshell, Relationship Management is our adeptness at working well with others and eliciting positive responses from them.

When you got your role, it’s unlikely that “maintaining relationships” was part of your official job description.   It’s a common trap for leaders to “avoid politics” and isolate themselves, forming connections only with those people they feel most comfortable with.   Yet the more effective you are at creating meaningful relationships with those you work with at all levels, the more success you will realize as a leader.

So, in this last quiz of the series, take a moment to see how your Relationship Management skills stack up…

EQ – Part 4 – Relationship Management Mini-quiz:

Please rate how true the following statements are for you (True, Somewhat true, or False):

  • I often achieve win/win outcomes.
  • When there is a clash of interests, I’m skilled at getting people to come to a consensus.
  • I am usually comfortable leading a team, even if it exposes me to other peoples’ criticism.
  • I can remain comfortable when others express strong feelings of grief or anger.
  • I’m usually able to be friendly even with people who have viewpoints that differ radically from my own.
  • I’m likely to notice if someone is “out of sorts” and will inquire if I can support them.
  • I am usually comfortable initiating and managing change.

The truer these statements are for you, the better your Relationship Management skills are supporting you in your growth and success as a leader.

The good news is that, like all of the Emotional Intelligence skills, you can work to improve your Relationship Management skills.

Here are a few “quick tips” to get you headed in the right direction…

  • Take Time to Cultivate Relationships

Being smart about creating good relationships with others and getting people on your side often makes the difference between being successful and suffering setbacks.

Consider which relationships could most benefit from nurturing and set an intention to improve your personal rapport with these individuals.

  • Be Open and Curious

Once you’ve decided to enhance a relationship, focus on letting your guard down and being more open about your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Letting others picture you on the soccer field with your kids or watching a recent movie with your friends allows them to relate to you in a more personal way.

Secondly, show even more attention to the other person than is usual – be curious and show an interest in learning about what’s important to them.  Not only will this improve your rapport, but you’ll also have more information about how you can meet their needs in future.

  • Appreciate and Acknowledge

Consider how much you like your good work to be recognized and apply that learning – make a habit of becoming more aware of the achievements that others have made and generously give messages of appreciation.

Sometimes it’s acknowledgment that people are hungry for. Noticing that someone is upset or “out of sorts”, and then showing you care by listening and offering support (not solutions) can go a long way towards fostering a trusting relationship.

  • Use Your Social Awareness

My article “Are You Socially Tuned In?” was about increasing your Social Awareness to listen and tune in to the needs of those around you.   Once you have Social Awareness, it’s time to put that increased awareness to work.

Signs that you’re relating to others in an emotionally intelligent way…You maintain a pleasant and professional demeanour while interacting with others, you’re sensitive to others’ needs, you make others feel valued, and you handle conflict in a calm and positive manner.

  • Get feedback

The people around you know more about how you can improve your Relationship Management skills than you do.  When I interview the manager, peers and direct reports of my Executive Coaching clients, the resulting report on what others candidly perceive as their biggest developmental areas is often a surprise for the client.

While you can’t be guaranteed 100% honest feedback by asking people outright, consider who you could safely ask for some feedback about how you come across and how you could improve your Relationship Management skills.   Ask clarifying questions and be sure to express thanks for the feedback (no matter how tough it was to hear!).

I hope you’ve gained some insight about your Emotional Intelligence through this series, and some inspiration to take it and your performance to the next level!

Sometimes, all it takes is relevant information for us to change – Other times we need more support in breaking old habits.   If you’d like some support in becoming the best leader you can be, drop me a line!

This article references ideas from “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”  by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.