To lead, it is important to establish strategic alliances.
The higher you go in the organization, the more you need to accomplish through others. The higher you go in an organization the more isolated you become from important information, if you are not learning from others. The higher you go in an organization, there are fewer people who are willing to tell you the truth they think you don’t want to hear, for fear of being shot as the messenger.
A strategic alliance needs to be a two-way street. You need to provide your alliance members the support and honesty that you want from them. There are those who you can mentor,
and those who can mentor you … often they are the same person. A more senior person mentoring a newer employee will probably be able to learn from the younger person a number of important insights, as well as the other way around.
Test out your ideas with those you can trust. Be encouraging to your partners to continue to give you feedback, especially when they challenge you. Provide the same role, as confidant and challenger, to the ideas of others. Share credit broadly with those who contribute to your success.
There are some who see these mutual relationships as politics. They’re right! Politics, in itself, is not good or bad. In fact, it’s essential to the functioning of an organization. When relationships are used for personal gain at the detriment of the organization … that is bad politics. Self-serving acts are what most people think of when they say, “I do not do politics.” Building relationships to further your work is political, but is essential to be effective … particularly when you need to work with, and through, others in an organization.
You will know you have been successful when your strategic alliance partners celebrate your success with you … and you with them.