“How are your relationships?”
This is a recurring conversation I have with my Spiritual Director every six weeks.
We discuss my relationship with God, my wife, my children and my work. When my relationships follow this proper order and priority, it is incredible how well life seems to function. When this order is reversed or imbalanced, it can negatively impact my relationships, which draws my attention to areas where I have fallen down.
In my work in the executive search business, I think about relationships all the time. My relationships with my team, my relationships with my clients and my relationships with candidates.
Here are three relationship lessons I have learned that are important in our executive search practice:
- Hurry hurts relationships. I repeat these three words to myself daily. For those of us who love being productive, getting things done and achieving goals, slowing down our pace can be difficult. Yet, it is difficult to be happy and have deep relationships if we are always in a hurry. Years ago, I received much needed advice from my CEO in my first executive leadership position. He said to me, “You need to slow down. Quit focusing so much on the numbers and focus on the relationships. Relationships are not transactional. Focus on the relationships and the numbers will follow.” He was 100% correct. When I learned to slow down, take time to focus on building relationships and trust that the numbers would work out, things not only felt more natural, but success followed. In the executive search business, I have found the more time you spend with both clients and candidates, the better prepared you are and the more value you can offer to serve both parties, which ultimately leads to a successful placement.
- Accept (and learn to appreciate) that you are not in control. Do you struggle with the false illusion that you are in control of your relationships no matter how hard you work, how smart you are or how much you care? I know I do! This is especially tested when things do not seem to work out according to our own plans and timeline. Relationships have a way of surprising us and reminding us that we are not in control. I have a recurring conversation (and chuckle) with Dan Heiman, our President & Owner when I get excited about a candidate for an executive search assignment. The conversation usually goes something like, “Dan, I just had the best visit with the perfect candidate! Our client is going to love this person!” He smiles, and calmly says, “Remember, Kelly. It does not matter what you think!” And he is right. There are many variables at stake when you bridge a candidate and client on an executive search assignment. It can be a match made in heaven, a lukewarm reception or a shocking bust. And when things seemingly do not go as planned, we need to keep trying, keep trusting and know that things will work out!
- Shine a light on your gifts and others. Have you ever been around somebody who always chooses to see the good in others and recognizes their gifts?This quality is attractive, positive and contagious. One of my first completed executive search assignments, I will never forget the response I received from a candidate when I asked the question, “What excites you most about this (Vice President of People/Culture) position?” Her response, “I want to shine a light on others and their gifts.” It was beautiful. We all have gifts, and when we focus on our gifts, there is no stopping what can be accomplished in the workplace. The mindset is this candidate was attractive, positive and contagious. Recently, our Cornerstone Kansas City team took the Working Genius Assessment, which is a model that helps individuals and teams discover the type of work that brings you joy and energy, and the type of work that robs you of joy and drains your energy in the workplace. Who wouldn’t want to know this? The exercise was incredibly helpful and memorable to our team. Not only is The Working Genius simple, quick and instantly applicable, but it provides immediate self-awareness of our God-given talents, gifts and limitations, individually and collectively as a team, which has allowed us to better understand one another, serve one another, and ultimately, be more productive and successful in our work. We are seeing more of our clients adopt The Working Genius model, and we are excited to help facilitate these conversations. Like the candidate reference above, who was ultimately hired for the Vice President of People and Culture position, shine a light on your gifts and others in the workplace!