In a recently published Harvard Business Review article, Strategic Communication Lecturer Jenny Fernandez answers the question many ask when starting a new role: “How can I hit the ground running, add value, and be recognized?” While securing a “quick, early win,” is important, Fernandez posits it is just as crucial for success to foster relationships with your colleagues and direct reports. “The best managers achieve both results and build strong relationships,” Fernandez contends.
Fernandez, a marketing executive, leadership coach, and lecturer, has over twenty years of managing multi-million-dollar organizations. The first key to building professional relationships, she argues, is creating a foundation of trust. In leadership positions, this could mean prioritizing one-on-one meetings with each member of your team. Exchanging advice, discussing goals, and learning each other’s motivations and expectations will set a standard for communication and trust. This can also be done with more senior executives, as Fernandez argues, “Asking for advice and sharing this level of vulnerability will help you earn their respect. They need to know you value their expert opinion, are looking out for their interests, and will share the success.”
The second tip is to “be open to being influenced.” Fernandez suggests this can be as simple as putting your phone on silent mode during meetings to fully focus and practice active listening. She encourages, especially in difficult conversations, to “know that you don’t have to have the last word on everything” and “listen more than you talk.” Fernandez emphasizes, “Asking for your team’s opinions, being open to other alternatives, and listening to understand and expand your perspective sends the right leadership signal.”
Finally, Fernandez advises to “adapt your message to your audience.” To grow your influence, “you need to win both hearts and minds,” and Fernandez believes the way one communicates is of utmost importance in that pursuit. Figuring out the communication style of a boss or direct report will allow you to convey your ideas successfully and increase your impact.
“Most of us have a preferred method of communication that is specific to our style and tends to favor either the heart (like telling a story to make your point) or the mind (like providing lots of evidence to support your point). But you need to craft a message with your audience in mind to address their specific needs and ensure they hear what you are trying to say.”
Read the full Harvard Business Review article, co-authored by Luis Velasquez, here.