Developing workplace relationship skills is key to future proofing your leadership

I am continuously heartened through work with my clients to witness the personal and professional successes that can be achieved and the organisational impacts derived when leaders commit to developing their people skills competence.

I regularly hear; “if I had know then what I know now” from leaders who may have experienced periods of stress  attributed to tensions and conflict in the workplace attributed to lack of insight into developing positive workplace relationships. There is much relief when they realise that they themselves have choices and have control over how they deal with situations and contribute to the establishment of environments where they can create possibilities for to engage and grow the capacity of their people and in turn positively impact the performance of the organisation.

Whilst my core work is helping leaders to develop their workplace relationship skills I also occasionally coach health and pharmaceutical professionals who are preparing for interviews. This is timebound focused work which aims to help the professional to communicate at exceptional levels at interview, demonstrating excellence in key areas of competence. This process can be an enlightening experience for clients who maybe for the first time are closely examining and matching their levels of competence to the requirements of a leadership role.

I recently had an interview coaching client for the healthcare sector applying for a leadership role. When reviewing one of the competencies ; “building and maintaining relationships” as an experienced healthcare professional he furnished multiple examples of how he had demonstrated this with clients or service users. When I suggested he should also consider an example of where he had applied this competence when working with peers or direct reports, he found this much more challenging.  He had found recent experiences with peers, stakeholders and direct reports to be difficult and felt he had not managed situations particularly well and reported regularly avoiding tackling or managing conflict situations where it was his responsibility. To meet the needs he had for interviewing for the role he was able to provide examples from earlier in his career where he had worked well as part of a team and was respected as a line manager. However, the experience of applying for the current role threw up gaps in his current approach to people leadership and he felt if he were to succeed in acquiring the role (which would also require him to manage some of his current and past peers) he would need to take time out to understand and work on the developmental gaps he had in this area.

Over a period of time we worked on developing his competence and future proofing his people leadership skills through the following:

  • Identifying his conflict style; as a conflict avoider, we worked on understanding how this ended up as his default conflict style and how it had served him and hindered him
  • Understanding other conflict styles and their applicability to varying situations
  • Understanding the dynamics of the team he currently was part of to get a sense of his contribution and input was to the difficulties he and others were experiencing
  • Developing a different mindset around conflict and workplace relationships as it applied to him as a team member and future leader

This client was successful at interview and took up the leadership role, some of the more urgent people skills development was completed in advance of commencing his role (which helped him avoid some of “if I knew then what I know now”) and he continues to actively develop his workplace relationship skills.

For professionals who are contemplating a future role as people leader and to avoid overuse of “If I knew then, what I know now” developing your competence now to build and maintain relationships can help you develop your career and land your ideal job as well as capacity to confidently lead and develop high performing engaged people.

Book a complimentary consultation with me today to identify  the skills that are key to future-proofing your leadership or if you need help preparing for competency based interviews