It’s About People, Really

I got a huge compliment from one of the company partners this week. He said “You’ve done a great job learning to connect with people the last year.” Now, this might sound like a left-handed complement, but for me it’s something that I’ve consciously focused on the last little while. I’ll never be a Bill Clinton, but it’s something that was important to get better at.

Changing behaviour like that is hard and requires continuous focus. I came from a software and project management background, and in my earlier life I was little better than most at persuading people to work together. Which is to say that I was a little better than a company full of engineers, programmers, and project managers. When I started working at I realized that not only was I going to have to raise my game to the next level, but that there are levels above me that I wasn’t even aware of.

In my current role as a business execution specialist connecting with people and building trust and a relationship is the biggest part of the job. They are trusting me with their companies, their livelihoods, and livelihoods of everybody in their company. If you’re a CEO you’re even more so in the hot seat. The buck stops with you.

Which is why I was surprised when I got briefed in on a new client recently. Part of what I was told is that they don’t want any of that fuzzy-wuzzy psychology mumbo-jumbo. Just come in and fix what’s wrong. This gave me the first sign of what my approach was going to have to be. Except I would have to be patient. Spend time face-to-face with the players. Build trust. Establish a relationship. You know, all that fuzzy-wuzzy psychology mumbo-jumbo stuff. Because at the c-suite level it’s all about the people. And trust. And relationships.

If you’re a lumberjack you’d better know how to use a chain-saw. If you’re a manager, leader, or CEO, you better know what makes your people tick and how to get them working together. Either that or you can pay somebody like me a lot of money to “fix what’s wrong”.

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