The Key Work Relationship You're Probably Overlooking


This month, we're talking about strengthening your leadership by building your relationships. That topic may get you thinking about how you interact with your boss, your peers and directs, but there's another relationship that has a huge impact on your success — and it's one you may be ignoring. I'm talking about your relationship with yourself. The way you view yourself affects how you influence others.

The experiences of one my clients really drive this point home. Julie is in a new role, but is not new to her organization. She has a unique skill set and a lot to offer.

But Julie’s view of herself is "I have to prove that I earned this promotion."

Her belief really affects how she works with others. In tough situations, she feels that it's on her to "fix" everything. This keeps her from taking a more balanced approach, thinking about what she can do and expecting involvement from others. Indirectly, she's giving away too much of her power, which will make her a less effective leader.

The stories you tell yourself always affect your actions, even if you think you are keeping negativity under wraps. If your relationship with yourself needs some work, here are three strategies to try.

  1. Send yourself the right messages. What does your self-talk sound like? Are you telling yourself to push harder, prove yourself or do better? Start by identifying one positive message to replace a negative one, to help you bring your A game. Another tactic is to notice your strengths and how they drive results. Identify some specific examples of how you have leveraged those strengths to make a difference in the past few months, whether it’s personally or professionally.

  1. Check in with yourself regularly. If you can pause to really notice what's going on for you in the moment, you can act more effectively. For example, if, like Julie, you feel compelled to prove yourself in meetings, take a minute to notice your mindset before you walk into your next one. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself and think about how you want to “show up.” Remind yourself of the importance of shared ownership in driving commitment and results, and that you do have something valuable to offer.

  1. Remember self-care. Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally isn't selfish. In fact, it's the most essential thing you can do for success. If you expect high performance from yourself, that requires getting enough sleep and exercise, managing stress, celebrating successes and feeding your spirit.

This week, notice how your relationship with yourself affects your relationships with others. Use one of these strategies to make internal shifts that can help you improve your mindset and performance. If this article hit home for you, you'll also enjoy my new Leadership EDGE SeriesSM booklets "Building Executive Presence," "Building Influence" and "Strategically Standing Out." All are filled with more ideas for small steps that can lead to big results.