Bywater Consulting Group, LLC
Liz Bywater, PhD

October 2009

Spotlight on Leadership: Relationships Matter

I love my job. I get to work with incredible clients - bright, successful, motivated individuals who possess the courage and commitment to keep getting better. What's not to love about that?

Many of my clients are mid to senior level executives who have already accomplished a great deal in their careers. For some of these executives, coaching provides a way to ensure success in a new or expanded role. For others, coaching helps to enhance and strengthen their effectiveness as leaders within their organizations. And for others, coaching offers a way to improve the communication, collaboration and overall performance of their teams.

Although the context varies - in terms of the particular challenges being faced, the specific opportunities to be leveraged, as well as the functions and industries in which my clients work - there are several themes that repeatedly emerge. Communication. Collaboration. Influence. Leadership. And the common thread among these? Relationships. Interacting effectively and successfully with others toward a positive outcome.

Relationships in the workplace really do matter. And for leaders, mastering the relationship "thing" is simply essential. The fact is, it is only in the context of meaningful, trusting, genuine relationships that leaders are able to influence others, communicate a compelling vision and rally the enthusiasm, support and commitment of their people.

Here are some tips for developing and sustaining key relationships:

Make a list. Write down all of the stakeholders with whom you interact and whom you must be able to influence or otherwise engage. This should include your direct reports, your peers, your boss, senior leadership, even your admin. Clients, customers and business partners are important, too. Be certain not to leave anyone out.

Rate your relationships. On a scale of 1 to 5, rate each of these relationships. How strong are they in terms of trust, candor and respect? How are the quality and adequacy of communication? Reflect upon recent conversations, conflicts and collaborative endeavors. A score of 5 means the relationship is nearly perfect. A score of 1 means the relationship is in dire straits. Most of your relationships will probably fall somewhere in the middle.

Build upon your strongest relationships. Be sure to sustain these healthy relationships. All relationships require active maintenance so don't become complacent. Continue to engage in open dialogue. Reach out on a regular basis. Connect over a cup of coffee or a bite of lunch. You've got a good thing going. Make sure to keep it up.

Fix what's broken. If things have faltered in one of your relationships, find a way to remedy the situation. Have the difficult conversations. Find out what you may have done to contribute to the poor quality of the relationship. See what needs to happen in order to make things better. It won't always be easy but, more often than not, you will be able to improve a damaged relationship. And that's a good thing for all involved.

Seek feedback. Don't forget to periodically check in with each of your key stakeholders. You'll want to examine what's going well in your relationships and what can be improved upon. These needn't be touchy-feely conversations. Instead, they should be focused on the quality and quantity of interaction, communication and collaboration. Offer and ask for concrete examples of what's working well and what isn't. This will put you in a great position to enhance and improve upon these vital relationships.

On the Air:

Check out a fun interview Radio 700 WLW out of Cincinnati, where the discussion is about buzzword use and abuse. Includes tips for job-seekers too!

Just visit and look for the audio on the right side of the web site.

Speaking Engagements:

October 29, 2009. The Balanced Entrepreneur: How to Achieve Peace of Mind in a Demanding Life. Network Now. Newtown, PA.

November 7, 2009. Finding Balance: How to Achieve Peace of Mind in a Demanding Life. Day for All Women. Bucks County Community College. Newtown, PA. Register here.

Now booking for Winter/Spring of 2010. Speaking inquiries should be directed to Or call 800.846.4546.

In The Press:


How to Reward Outstanding Performance (Stepping Stone)

How to Achieve Exceptional Team Performance (Business Edge)


The Most Annoying, Overused Words in the Workplace (Yahoo! HotJobs)

Overused Office Buzzwords: The List Grows (Fast Company)

News Releases:

You can find our most recent news releases on

Private Coaching Programs:

Curious about private coaching? Learn more here. For additional information or to get started, call 800.846.4546 or send an email to Be sure to check out coaching successes here.

Organizational Consulting:

Looking to improve individual, team and organizational performance? If you're interested developing your leaders, accelerating the growth of your high potentials, enhancing the skills of your managers and/or boosting the collective contributions of your teams, call 800.846.4546 or email your inquiry to

Career Success, Twitter and the Bywater Journal:

Don't forget to check out Career Success with Liz Bywater: Insights for Outstanding Performance and Maximum Success. It's all about helping you do your best work, feel your best at work, and enjoy the career you've always wished for. Recent posts include:

Effective Goal-Setting Tip #4: Keep Yourself Accountable

Flying in V-Formation

Business Communication Tip #31: Avoid Buzzword Overkill

You can also follow me on Twitter.

Finally, don't forget to pass along this edition of the Bywater Journal. You can also read back issues here.

Warm regards,

Liz Bywater, PhD
toll-free 800.846.4546

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