There is more to building your people skills than appreciating others, being positive, and recognizing another person’s value. The 3 keys to corporate success and building relationships are integrity, diplomacy, and humility.
Dependability, trustworthiness, and transparency make up the first key – integrity. Some may say that honesty is central to integrity. I believe that transparency, a very different value, is one of the central elements of integrity. A leader in an organization does not always need to be honest with her employees. There are some dealings within corporate America that are best kept close to the vest. I’m convinced that this is an example of why the English language is so difficult for those with English as a second language to learn. Words mean things and, in my eyes, honesty is different from integrity. An example of being honest is a leader telling his employees there will be furloughs, layoffs, and even terminations because the company is on a losing path. Yes, this is honest, but does not come to the core of integrity. A leader with integrity would have kept his employees informed of the state of the organization. Employees should feel their leader transparent, in that she exercises clear and frequent communication so there are no surprises later. Providing an action plan and clearly communicating that plan to employees is also central to building that trustworthiness. Other examples of integrity in the workplace is following through on commitments, admitting when you are wrong, owning up to mistakes, and not participating in gossip. You’ll find that suddenly people are trusting you to the point where they feel comfortable sharing their concerns and fears because they know you will not use that against them later.
Tact and grace are two central elements to diplomacy. Does this mean giving the correct answer but in a roundabout way? No. Does it mean using the most effective way to hide the truth? No. Diplomacy is a way of communicating so as to drown out “noise.” In business communication “noise” is all of the experiences and feelings that come up when diplomacy is NOT used. For example, a manager can tell his employee that he really messed up the training session because he was not prepared and has no clue on how to train others. Obviously, this is not a diplomatic response. The employee only hears “noise” at this point. The employee thinks back, for example, of how mom would scold him when he did something incorrectly. His experience with his previous employer when he made an error came flooding back to him. He thinks, “Wow – I am in the same situation I was in at ABC Company.” Keen communication is key when exercising diplomacy. A more diplomatic response from this leader would be for him to tell his employee that the training did not go well, yes. But this is okay because this is a learning opportunity for the employee. Let’s go through the events of the training session and talk about our lessons learned. Let’s decide together how this training will be better the next time. So, diplomacy means being respectful of the other person’s thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Some may say that people just have to put on “their big boy pants.” However, this is not reality when you are managing people.
John Baldoni in his 2009 Harvard Business Review article states that humility is a leadership trait. You must lead by example! He goes on to state, however, that humility is a trait that is important to have as a middle manager and even a rank and file employee. Open mindedness and showing a lack of self-importance are two key elements of humility. Humility leaves one open to new ideas and therefore increases learning potential. People with humility show a genuine interest in what others have to offer whether in business or in personal relationships. Your demeanor and your attitude sets you apart from others. When exercising humility, you leave yourself open to the ideas of others and gain their respect.
If you use these three keys to corporate success, you will find that opportunities will become available for you. You will gain respect from your peers and your leaders. Other employees will trust you with information. You will gain the reputation of someone who follows through on commitments and therefore can be trusted to get the job done. There is something to be said for technical competency. You may be the best computer programmer in the world. You may be the best program manager in the world. However, if you don’t use the three keys to corporate success, you will find yourself having difficulty in making and maintaining good business relationships. Further, the opportunities for your advancement will dry up very quickly. Successful people us the three keys to corporate success, integrity, diplomacy, and humility.