"We build too many walls and not enough bridges." ~Sir Isaac Newton
"A leader is someone who can do everything him(her)self, but let's other people help him(her)." ~Don Rittner
And no, it doesn't have to do with you throwing them parties, always agreeing with them, or other shallow efforts at establishing approval. What we are talking about here is not just getting people to like you, we are talking about something deeper, trust and respect.
The greatest part of your career success will rely on being able to establish trust and respect with your team, peers, and bosses. The most important network you can possibly establish is the one inside your own company. These networks will lead to new positions, promotions, assignments on high-profile initiatives, assistance when most needed, and even job security (“don’t get rid of them, they're fantastic”). If you don’t have the respect and assistance of your coworkers, you undoubtedly will find your job much more difficult.
Luckily, there are a few areas that can set you apart from others in your ability to foster trust and respect. Some might call them tricks, some might call them manners, but they work every time:
Respect and encourage their insight – People have different experiences and skills, and I insist that everyone has something you can learn from. By asking for their thoughts on matters, or participation in projects, you not only play to their vanity (though that seems a little more devious than it is intended to be), you also have an opportunity to learn from them. People want to be included, and if you are the one including them, they will be appreciative.
Make yourself available for them – People are often “too busy” to assist someone else when they ask for assistance. If you make time for others when they ask for your assistance and expertise you are modeling collaboration. It makes you a resource for them, again something that they appreciate, and it also opens the doors to asking them for assistance when you need it. One favor begs the next. It also shows that you respect them since you are willing to always make time for them (you do the same for the VP or President don’t you).
Praise them for their insight and accomplishments publicly – The greatest thing you can possibly do in business is praise others publicly, especially in front of their boss. Nothing will endear you to others quicker.
Now like I mentioned above, many of you will simply call this basic manners, but we sadly find few of those in most businesses. If you do the above three things consistently, you WILL stand out from the crowd. As leaders we are often too busy attempting to show why we are better than our peers than being the orchestrator of synergies between everyone. Also, you will find yourself in a better environment (friends are always a good thing) and more productive (as you increase the level of teamwork in the organization).
Make these three actions a part of your leadership plan going forward and you will find yourself an ever increasingly important member of your organization's leadership.