Education competencies: Managing relationships
This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success. View all competencies.
Responds and relates well to people in all positions; is seen as a team player and is cooperative; looks for common ground
and solves problems for the good of all.
|Level 1: Basic
||Level 2: Intermediate
||Level 3: Advanced
||Level 4: Expert
|Relates well to peers and to those in positions of authority
||Responds and relates well to peers and to those in positions of authority
||Responds and relates well to people in all positions, inside and outside his or her organization
or field of expertise
||Responds and relates extremely well to people in all positions, initiating and maintaining relationships
inside and outside his or her organization and field of expertise
|Can be a team player and is cooperative
||Is seen as a team player and is cooperative
||Quickly finds common ground and tries to solve problems for all
||Builds trust and leads teams, encouraging others to step out of their comfort zones to form new
|Can solve problems with peers with a minimum of noise
||Looks for common ground and solves problems for the good of all
||Values experience and likes to learn from those who have been there before
||Esteems those with experience, and openly relies on their expertise to benefit the organization
|Is confident, relaxed with, and well-regarded by peers
||Represents his or her own interests and yet is fair to other groups
||Encourages collaboration and easily gains trust and support of others
||Has a knack for diplomacy and fosters goodwill between groups and organizations
Overdoing managing relationships
- May be overdependent on authority figures for advice and counsel
- May shut out other sources of feedback and learning
- May pick the wrong role model; may be overly concerned with making everyone happy or be too accommodating
- May invest too much in some relationships at the expense of others
- May be uncomfortable with relationships where everyone’s not equal
- May share sensitive information inappropriately just to solidify a relationship
To improve your proficiency, ask yourself the following questions on a regular basis:
- Do I have good working and personal relationships with both my peers and with those in authority?
- What common ground can I point out to help smooth over rough situations or relationships?
- In what ways can I personally foster a new relationship between two people in my organization?
- What people can I encourage to collaborate their efforts for the purpose of reaching the organization’s
- What is the worst-case scenario involving a difficult relationship, and what response should I prepare?
- What informal meeting(s) can I orchestrate to promote a relaxed discussion with someone I am having personal
To avoid overdoing managing relationships, ask yourself:
- Am I overly driven to make everyone happy?
- Am I inappropriately free with information to gain others’ trust or friendship?
- Am I choosing to follow the wrong role model?
- Describe a time when you had to relate well to a variety of people, both inside and outside your organization,
at different authority levels. What approaches did you use? To what extent did you vary them based
on the person?
- Describe specific actions you have taken to promote a cooperative team environment, even when others
around you were negative or uncooperative. What did you do and what were the results?
- Sometimes, it can be difficult to come up with win-win solutions to problems. Think back to a time when
you took the lead in arriving at a solution that most satisfied all parties. What approach did you
use to find common ground? To what extent did you get advice from others?
Learning on the job
Learning on your own: These self-development remedies will help you build your skill(s).
- Manage the rocky relationship: Focus on key problems. Keep conversations aimed at the core agenda. Try
to be seen as cooperative; explain your thinking, and invite others to explain theirs.
- Watch out for loose lips: Give your loyalty and support, and keep it to yourself unless it is related
to breaches of ethics or integrity (take that to the proper authority). You can discuss difficulties
you are having performing a task without questioning why you are assigned it.
- Depersonalize and be neutral: Separate the person from the role; deal with people as individuals. Look
for the good points in everyone, and show them respect. Try to look at things from their viewpoints
without agreeing or disagreeing.
- Try to learn from the situation: Consider what part you play in contributing to a rough situation. Learn
to respond with something other than anger and blame. Maneuver through your organization by learning
who the movers and shakers and the resisters and stoppers are.
- Get feedback, and steer for smooth sailing: Ask others you trust for their views of you and the situation.
Get advice about improving the situation from a trusted mentor. Do your best to get along with others
for the good of the organization. Practice exchanging information and resources with others.
- Find your triggers: Keep a private journal on what irritates you about others. Use this information to
regulate your own behavior.
- Know your leaders and peers, and use influence: Try to objectively describe others in terms of strengths
and weaknesses. Consider who really wants to help and what they want. Understanding others enables
you to positively influence them. Find common ground where you can help each other or trade something.
Try to leave positive impressions on them. Appeal to the common good.
- Learn from conflict: Develop common ground and show some patience. Know that always winning concessions
may result in unbalanced relationships. Cooperate with others so they may do likewise.
- Face others: Try to have a series of relaxed discussions with people with whom you are having difficulty.
Use the word “I”; avoid the word “you.” Privately and politely confront others when there is a conflict.
Explain the impact it has on you, and give the other person a chance to explain. Focus on how to
accomplish work better, rather than on winning the argument.
- Strike a bargain with yourself: Dedicate yourself to doing your best and not getting distracted by difficult
relationships. Mentally rehearse bad scenarios and how you will deal with people. Make the best of
a bad situation.
Learning from develop-in-place assignments: These part-time develop-in-place assignments will help you build
- Relaunch a project or procedure that is not doing well.
- Install a new process or system (new policies, new procedures).
- Write a proposal for a new policy, process, or system, and then present it to key people.
- Plan an off-site meeting, conference, or workshop.
- Build a multifunctional project team to tackle a common problem.
- Join a community board.
- Resolve a conflict between two people or groups.
Learning more from your plan: These additional remedies will help make this development plan more effective for
- Learning to learn better:
- Form a learning network with others working on the same problem. Look for a variety of people, both
inside and outside your organization. Give feedback to each other; try new things together; share
successes and failures, lessons, and learning.
- Think and talk more in probabilities and less in absolutes. Establish what’s real about your suggestions
or ideas rather than trying to always be 100% correct. Tell people how sure you are before you
make a statement.
- Work with a development partner. Find a person you trust to be both candid and constructive, and
team up with him or her. Construct effective strategies; give feedback; role-play tactics.
- Preview a plan with a test audience. Find someone agreeable to a wide-ranging discussion about the
issue you face. Explore all sides and options, and develop a plan as you go.
- Learning from experience, feedback, and other people:
- Use multiple models. Select role models of towering strengths (or glaring weaknesses). Learn from
characteristics rather than from the whole person.
- Learn from those in authority. Distance yourself from your feelings, and analyze what these people
do and do not do well. Choose to imitate the successful behavior.
- Learn from poor authority figures. Determine what makes them bad examples, if you are part of the
problem, and if others regard them the same way. Avoid reacting out of anger and frustration,
and resolve to not imitate poor behavior.
- Learn from mentors and tutors. Be open and non-defensive; solicit and accept feedback.
- Learn from interviewing others. Ask what, how, and why they do what they do, where they learned it,
and how they keep it current and relative.
- Consolidate what you learn from people. Write down rules or principles you learn, and share them
- Get feedback from those in authority. Communicate that you are open to constructive criticism and
are willing to work on issues they view as important.
- Get feedback from peers and colleagues. Promote trust to get honest, quality feedback.
- Solicit feedback. Take the initiative in asking others for feedback about you; choose multiple sources
and multiple methods.
- Be open to feedback. Ask for examples and details; listen, take notes, and keep a journal.
- Learning from courses:
- Participate in insight events. Take a course designed to assess skills and provide feedback to help
you develop self-knowledge
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- Fox, Jeffrey J.How to Become a Great Boss: The Rules for Getting and Keeping the Best Employees [Unabridged audio].New York: Time Warner Audio Books, 2002.
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Copyright © 1992, 1996, 2001-2003 by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This work is
derived from the LEADERSHIP ARCHITECT® Competency Library developed and copyrighted by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael
M. Lombardo for Lominger Limited, Inc.