Do You Know the Quality of Your Work Relationships?

| September 25, 2014 | 3 Comments

He sat nervously outside the Vice President’s office – waiting to be called in. After just two years with the company, Luke wanted to do more, take on more responsibility, be seen as one of CultivateTheBookthe emerging leaders. But how?

He admired the Vice President. She was smart and had risen up the ranks quickly. In a highly political environment Jane seemed to overcome the obstacles of this cut-throat business and was respected by all sides. Luke was surprised when Jane had made the time to meet with him. He was very vague about his reasons. The bottom line was that he hoped she would share some of her secrets, provide some sage advice. He thought, “Who am I kidding? This will be a 5 minute meeting with me walking out red-faced.”

An hour later he would leave Jane’s office with much to consider and a greater appreciation for how Jane did, and would continue to succeed. She built Allies, understood who were Supporters – important, but conditional,  and was very aware of her Adversaries and Rivals.

After the usual pleasantries, Luke explained to Jane why he had requested a few minutes of her time. “Ever since I’ve been with this company I’ve admired how you’ve led our division and managed through the in-fighting between departments. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy, but you seem to bring out the best in  people. I was wondering if you would share with me just how you do it.”

Jane looked over at Luke with a bit of a grin. “Luke, if you want to get ahead and really make a difference, whether in this company or another, you need to understand the power of relationships and you need to know how to cultivate relationships that are long-lasing and real. I learned early on that I can’t make it by myself. I rely on other people for my success and they rely on me.”

Luke looked at Jane with a hint of disappointment. He had hoped for more, not some soft, superficial  advise on relationships.  Jane saw the look and said, “Luke, I am going to give you one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s called Cultivate, The Power of Winning Relationships. The author is Morag Barrett. In fact, I’m planning on making this book available, and actually a must read for all of our managers. The only way we’re going to be able to move forward is for all of us to understand the types of relationships we currently have and learn to cultivate winning relationships. Let me highlight some key points from Ms. Barrett’s book.”

Jane went over to the white board and began to diagram the four types of relationships described in Cultivate.


Ally – Will have your back at all times and is invested in your success. An unconditional relationship, one that you can depend on during good and tough times.

Supporter -Fun and nice to work with. Will provide feedback, but only when you ask. Will help out when times are good, but unlikely to take personal risks when times are tough.

Rival – Behave in a more overtly competitive way, with the competition focused not just on the next promotion, but on limited company resources.

Adversary – The motto of an Adversary is “I’m against you!”, either overtly or covertly.


Chart and definition of relationships duplicated with the authorization by Morag Barrett.

Jane wrapped up the meeting and scheduled another appointment with Luke. In the meantime, Jane asked Luke to read the first 4 chapters of Cultivate.

Cultivate, The Power of Winning Relationships is a powerful book and offers a great foundation for emerging managers who want to know how to become great leaders. You can learn more about Morag and her book at . Thank you Morag!



Category: Newsletters


About the Author ()

Julia Hill-Nichols, SPHR, is the founder of LeadersCove, LLC. With over 30 years experience in operations and human capital management, Julia is gifted in the art and science of bridging strategic imperatives and a company’s human capabilities—executing for success, meeting bottom-line objectives and enlivening the people who are the organization’s lifeblood.

Comments (3)

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  1. Julia, you are fabulous, thank you so much for sharing ‘Cultivate’ with your clients and newsletter readers.

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