Finders Keepers

Nurture RelationshipsWhen you find good people, do you keep them in your life?


When interviewing leaders, ask yourself: Is this the kind of person whom people want to work for again and again? Does he or she provide the kind of mentoring that builds loyalty and good will, even among people who have moved on to other firms?


Recently I had the chance to interview a logistics leader for a major multinational firm in Canada. In the course of the interview, this guy told a story about taking a new role and reaching out to recruit a couple of people who had worked for him in the past to come work for him again, which they did.

When interviewing leaders, ask yourself: Is this the kind of person whom people want to work for again and again? Does he or she provide the kind of mentoring that builds loyalty and good will, even among people who have moved on to other firms?

When a leader who is also a mentor reaches a senior position in his career, he’s got people he can call: people who are a known entity, who he knows can fill the job well. And if they are not available, they know exactly what he needs and can recommend the right person.

I’m reminded of something Tim Russert once said, albeit in a different context. I’m paraphrasing here, but when Russert was asked how to distinguish between the people in Washington who genuinely wanted to do good vs. those who were just in it for themselves, Russert said something to this effect: “The good guys have friendships that predate their time in Washington. The ones you have to watch out for are those who have no friends from their time before they moved inside the Beltway.”

We can and should build our networks at every point in our lives and careers. But when seasoned, senior executives have only “new” friends, that’s a red flag. The leader who has a vibrant network of relationships with top performers, built over an entire career, is the real deal.

Cultivating such a network is a long-term investment, and if the mentoring and coaching role doesn’t come naturally to you, it is one that you’ll need to be intentional about. But it is an investment that pays off. You will have the satisfaction of seeing “your people” thrive and succeed. You will also have a group of trusted professionals ready to heed the call and come work for you again. When you need to staff up quickly and intelligently, this is incredibly valuable.

Next Actions

  • If mentoring comes naturally to you, congratulations! You probably do it because you enjoy it, and not for the “payoff.” Still, don’t forget to keep making those relational investments – because there is a payoff.

 

  • If mentoring doesn’t come naturally to you, try to build it in. Add it to your mental checklist. When you’re on the road, let old friends and colleagues know you’re in town. Who makes the effort to see you? Take note, and nurture your relationships with them – they’re the keepers.

 

The Takeaway

“Make new friends, but keep the old . . .” as the song goes. If your network includes “keepers,” and if you sustain and nurture those relationships, then you have a network that will take you through the twists and turns of your entire career. 
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