Management Principle: Relationships

In life, we end up trying to manage bad behavior in others through rules and discipline rather than simply encouraging good behavior through incentives.

I’ve thought long and hard about relationships at work. I find people’s beliefs about this subject to be intriguing. In life, we end up trying to manage bad behavior in others through rules and discipline rather than simply encouraging good behavior through incentives. It’s like swatting a dog when he pees on the carpet rather than giving him a biscuit when he sits by the door. Having right relationships should be our supreme goal in life. There are different types of relationships in the work setting: manager, peer, vendor, direct reports, etc. And, each relationship has a specific context that creates a unique way of relating. Some people hesitate to engage in friendships at work as they believe it confuses the managerial role. If one’s view of friendship means being nice, never confronting, and maintaining peace at all costs, then perhaps it’s true. If friendship rather means clear communication, speaking the truth in love, and disagreeing when necessary to maintain unity and alignment, then this is transferrable. Relationship defined is an expression of human connection that can look different depending on role, without having artificial constraints. Just because someone is married doesn’t mean they can’t have wholesome relationships with other members of the opposite sex. All business-related relationships should be characterized by love (willing the highest good for another), compassion (even when discipline is required), communication (speaking openly and directly), to be wholesome, fruitful, and productive. Humans have the same needs regardless of the context. Old-school thinking that blocks out friendship at work is missing the mark.

Coaching questions: How would you characterize your relationships at work? How might you bring more humanity into the equation?

Read more coaching principles from Dean Harbry on the Internal Innovations website.

Management Principle: Words

The part of the body that creates the most distress in human relationships is the tongue. As the old saying goes, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Being careful about our own emotional state, watching our attitude, and being mindful of our own stress reactions can go a long way in improving the way we communicate with others. I hope you enjoy this week’s principle.

Words. The words we use and the way we communicate will have a direct impact on the responses we receive from others. If we seek a particular concession, we must lay the proper groundwork and use the right words to create the appropriate incentives. It’s the way humanity works best. If you want your teenage son to show more respect toward his mother, appealing to his personal likes and dislikes, helping him to feel the way he makes others feel, will likely produce a better result than humiliating him in front of his siblings. To be effective at influence, we must always maintain composure, determine the likely outcome of what we say before we say it (and, make appropriate changes ahead of time), and keep other’s best interest in mind. The truth is, our conversations will help or hurt, heal or wound, encourage or deflate depending on the words we use. There really is no such thing as idle influence when communicating with another person.

Coaching questions: How would others rate you with respect to your ability to use the right words? What are some important personal changes you could make, to secure better results from those under your care?

ead more coaching principles from Dean Harbry on the Internal Innovations website.

New Leadership Communication

The topic of employee engagement is getting increased focus, and this trend will intensify in the future. The rules for leadership communication have changed. Harvard Business School Research shows that 92% of companies agree that the practice of internal communication has undergone a lot of change in their organizations. To learn more visit HBR blog or read: Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations (HBR Press, 2012).

leadership performance, engaging customers, managing talent, improving busness performance

In todays world where results must be better balanced with relationships and emotional connection, top-down one way communication from the leadership does not work. Our corporate research is showing that out of touch and closed leadership is not accepted. So, what this means is that the communication has to become more customized to who each person is behaviorally. Further, the communication must be more open conversation style. Through all this the company message has to be told and repeated along with goal clarity. Reiterating, this must happen in the context of who each employee is. The leaders must adapt their style.

How do you do that? The key is the business must know the behavioral style of each employee and build that into its systems at all levels, and make open communication a culture.

Learn more about how you can engage your employees on their terms.

Management Principle: Fully Present

Because human beings are open loop creatures (see last week’s principle), communication and connection are essential for proper human function. When organizational leaders fail to communicate in an authentic way, people lack something they need to operate at optimum levels. For those who have learned the secret of being fully present, they enjoy the fruits of the active support of those around them.

Fully Present. We live in a day where cell phones, text messages, and mobile applications demand our time and attention. While constant connectedness can be draining for some and fun for others, ongoing streams of data can prohibit us from being fully present when engaging with others. Everything that happens begins with a conversation, and, if we fail to give our full attention, the quality of our decision-making will suffer. Being fully present is an executive competency where effective human influence is wrought. If your value as an organizational leader is multitasking, you are forfeiting camaraderie, quality, and collaboration–all the needed ingredients to fulfill a vision and mission. Being fully present means we are truly synchronized in conversation; it’s like a dance. We listen hard, state back what others are saying to us, and provide appropriate gestures in response. As a result, we are so attuned to the other person that we understand both their thinking and feelings-information we use to cultivate alliances. The quality of our relationships is directly tied to our ability to be fully present.

Coaching questions: Do you give others your full attention when conversing? What can you do to be fully present?

Read more coaching principles from Dean Harbry on the Internal Innovations website.

Management Principle: Conflict

Well performing, sustainable firms are those with a healthy culture and people who are motivated to serve, rather than just show up. The most debilitating of all sicknesses is when intra-company relationships turn sour, and conflict is resolved by either abandoning or abusing proper communication protocols. Today’s principle focuses on the only real option if you want health in your organization.


Conflict. Like it or not we will all face conflict, forcing us to deal with an unwanted problem. We have one of three choices: 1) do nothing and avoid it; 2) assert ourselves to win; or, 3) resolve it with a proper communication process. If we stuff our emotions and say nothing, or, use aggression as a form of verbal combat, we will drive wedges in relationships and make matters worse. Speaking with outsiders only spreads the cancer and creates larger factions. On the other hand, when conflict is addressed properly, trust and teamwork emerge. We must learn how to say what we feel but in a nonjudgmental way, and provide opportunity for the other person to clarify their intentions in order to bridge the communication gap. It involves listening and questioning skills, and it requires both parties to suspend judgment until both sides are heard. Only then will relationships truly heal, yielding an even stronger bond. Organizational leaders who understand this principle cultivate a culture of engagement, and are rewarded with motivated, engaged team members, producing better results.

Coaching questions: What are the unstated rules in your firm, regarding conflict resolution? What can you do to improve the culture?

Read more coaching principles from Dean Harbry on the Internal Innovations website.