You, Me, We Why We All Need a Friend at Work (and How to Show Up As One!) – Morag Barrett, Eric Spencer, Ruby Vesely
In today’s age of Zoom calls and hybrid workplaces, how can leaders foster relationships that allow everyone to succeed? A trio of best friends and leadership consultants at SkyeTeam have the surprising answer: workplace success starts by being a friend.
Meet the Ally Mindset, a model for proactive, thoughtful work relationships. As you heal adversarial relationships and strengthen weaker ties, you’ll find that when you have best friends at work―colleagues who have your back―you thrive.
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Through personal stories, science-backed insights, and valuable lessons from clients including Google, the National Geographic Society, and Microsoft, Author and business expert Morag Barrett, HR and Leadership Development Coach Eric Spencer, and executive coach and leadership development expert Ruby Vesely explore the five key parts of the Ally Mindset and demonstrate how to apply them to your relationships.
Abundance and Generosity: Be the Flame That Lights Another’s Candle
The five practices of the Ally Mindset provide a framework for intentional choices in all your relationships: abundance and generosity, connection and compassion, courage and vulnerability, candor and debate, action and accountability.
Abundance and generosity are all about working with others, and they are the first step in moving from a me-first to a we-first orientation. An Ally Mindset begins with holding a perspective of abundance: you believe there’s plenty of success to go around and that collaborating for the success of others in your workplace and network will create more success for everyone.
Generosity is related to abundance but distinctly different. It’s giving to others freely without expectation of getting anything back in return or keeping count.
Generosity doesn’t only come in the form of money; it comes from sharing your knowledge and experiences, coaching and mentoring others. It also comes from being generous with your time. When you give generously to someone, it expands generosity in your team, in your community, and in the world in a circular way.
Connection and Compassion: Empathy Rules!
Connection and compassion are built in everyday interactions, through recognition and acknowledgment, when we feel that we are seen, that our voices are heard, and that our opinions matter. At its very essence, connection is all about the relationships you build with others.
Connection is undeniably important, but like many other things in work and life, it’s not the quantity of connections you make that will ultimately have the greatest impact; it’s the quality of them.
When we talk about connection, we also need to talk about compassion. Compassion is the authentic desire to help others and to have a positive impact. When we have a mindset of abundance and generosity, we feel more compassion toward others.
Courage and Vulnerability: When You Let Your Guard Down, the Magic Happens
The key to developing an Ally Mindset is having the willingness and ability to reveal ourselves completely to others. It requires having the courage to admit to our shortcomings and mistakes and to be open to honest and candid feedback.
It also requires demonstrating vulnerability—owning up to our fears or concerns, asking others for help, and acting on that help when it is provided.
While some think that vulnerability is a weakness, it’s really a strength that can help us build relationships with others. Courage and vulnerability are inextricably linked. Courage is having the conviction to be true to yourself.
When we’re vulnerable, we show the world that we aren’t always right, that sometimes we don’t know what we’re doing, that occasionally we’re out of control and need help. To work, vulnerability must be honest and sincere.
Candor and Debate: Stop Dancing with the Elephant in the Room
Candor is expressing your point of view in a way that increases learning and shared understanding, and it also means seeking out opportunities to both give and receive tough feedback.
Debate is the willingness to take a stand and then explore it in discussions with others—perhaps passionately, but always respectfully. An effective debate also taps into your active listening skills.
Action and Accountability: It’s All Wishes, Ponies, and Unicorns Until the Money’s in the Bank
Action is doing something, and in the context of the Ally Mindset, it is reactive in nature. It’s doing what you say you’re going to do when you say you’ll do it. Accountability is proactively looking out for the needs of others. This is the capstone piece of the Ally Mindset model.
Action is moving forward, accomplishing your goals. Action is about applying uncommon discipline and keeping commitments on your team, while accountability is going the extra step—recognizing a coaching moment, pausing, and doing the right thing instead of the simple or fast thing.
Accountability is proactively looking out for opportunities to serve and support others. Accountability is also ensuring that you serve and support your own needs and goals. Ultimately, the practice of action and accountability builds trust.
From Adversary to Ally: Even Darth Vader Left the Dark Side
When your words and actions don’t align, it damages your reputation and your career. And if you’re in a leadership role, this gap could also be hurting your company.
We judge ourselves by our intent because we know what we mean, what we’re trying to accomplish, and what we’re capable of. But everyone else judges us by how what we do lands—and we them.
Saying one thing but feeling another has a huge influence on the quality of our working relationships because we write stories about each other. And we don’t talk about it.
Repairing a damaged relationship, or your reputation, starts with giving up something of value rather than asking for something of value from others. If you don’t give first, then you are simply conducting a transaction.
Apologize not only to the recipient of your less-than-stellar performance but also to innocent bystanders, those who witnessed the outburst or were impacted in the ripple effect of your behavior.
Trust: The Secret Sauce to Friendships at Work
There’s one more thing that must be in place for the Ally Mindset to work. Trust is a bridge of connection we build with someone else that says, “I believe you; I can rely on you; I feel safe with you.”
The Ally Mindset enables you to move from the me-first to the we-first perspective that maximizes your potential to be and have allies. These two elements of trust work together in balance, providing the tasty secret sauce you need to be an ally to those around you.
But there’s one more level of trust that many often forget. In addition to trust (or a lack thereof) in others, there is trust (or a lack thereof) in yourself. And like the trust you have with others, this, too, is in a constant state of flux, a constant state of change.
Conclusion: Always Do Your Best
As we strive to always do our best, we should do everything we can to help our colleagues, clients, friends, family, and others do their best too. It’s about connecting, making someone’s day a little bit better.
It’s about the human touch. In a world with so much disconnection, all of us need that touch, whether it’s in-person or virtual.
People crave connection, people need connection; it’s built deep into our DNA.
But we’re so busy running on our hamster wheels we forget to reach out. Relationships are made or broken one conversation at a time. We have a choice to enter into relationships one thought at a time. And those thoughts happen every day.