Successful people build strong networks. Strong networks are a great way to develop your personal brand – or to wreck it. Here’s a true story about one of my career success coach clients.
James was with his company for close to 30 years and was a very senior executive. He had risen through the ranks and was well-regarded by almost everyone who knew him. But, a couple of years ago, he was asked to resign.
James became the protégé of a senior manager early in his career. As the manager moved up, James moved up with him. The manager had great faith in James’ business acumen and his problem-solving ability. Whenever a problem arose, James’ manager would ask him to “look into it and fix it.”
James enjoyed these challenges. He was smart, and had an uncanny ability to zero in on what was going wrong. He was equally adept at coming up with solutions to problems.
James created issues for himself though. Most of the time, the problems he was asked to fix were not in his area of responsibility. They were problems that his peers, other people at his level who reported to his boss, were experiencing. In pleasing his boss and solving problems, James stepped all over the toes of his peers – sometimes not so gently. They came to resent him for it. And this hurt his personal brand.
One day, his boss left the company. One of James’ peers was appointed to take his place. Three months later, James was asked to resign. He was asked to resign not because of his performance. In some ways, it was because he was too competent. He was asked to resign because he hadn’t built strong relationships with his peers. Often, by doing what his boss wanted, he alienated the people closest to him.
James and I began working together. My career advice was to build his brand by working on his interpersonal skills. I helped James understand that it was important not only to do a great job, but to do so in a way that did not alienate those around him.
I’m happy to say that James landed a job as President of a small company in his industry. We still speak. He tells me that the secret to his new-found success comes from both his willingness to work hard and to build and maintain relationships with people at all levels of his company.
James’ story illustrates an important point about career success. Successful people realize that relationships are the key to building a winning personal brand. No one can go it alone and succeed. You have to build and nurture a strong network of colleagues and peers.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people’s personal brands identify them as being interpersonally competent. Interpersonally competent people build and maintain strong relationships with the people close to them. They also resolve conflict in a manner that enhances, not detracts, from these relationships. If you want to build a brand that identifies you as being interpersonally competent, follow the career advice in Tweet 66 in Success Tweets. “Nurture your network. What your friends, colleagues and customers say about you is how others will think of your brand.” Put as much effort into building strong relationships with your colleagues as you do into producing good results. Remember, success depends not only on what you do, but how you do it.