Our Observations

Cultivating Winning Relationships


Morag Barrett is the owner of SkyeTeam and the author of a new book, Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships. Here, she answers a few questions about her book and the one relationship question she gets asked the most. 

At Last Communications: At what point in your career did you begin to understand that the value of good relationships results in personal or professional success?

Morag Barrett: This was a two-step process for me, professionally and personally. Professionally I recognized early in my career that business, products, projects struggle when care and attention are not given to the interpersonal dynamics of how people will work together to execute the business plan. This was brought home in my commercial banking role where I was analyzing business plans and growth strategies for large companies in the UK, deciding whether to lend millions of pounds, and realized that numbers were only part of the equation -- the people strategy was as important as the numbers!

Personally it took a little longer and if there is one piece of advice I would give to the 20-year-old version of myself it would be "cultivate winning relationships" from day one. I prided myself on being independent, someone who didn't need to be closely managed and took initiative. These are great skills; however I have since learned that being interdependent is a better way, to achieve success together is much more fun, and makes things easier than trying to go alone!

ALC: It's easy for us to get along with people we like. For most people, the challenge is building a good relationship with those we have a difficultly with or, oftentimes, can't stand. What do you recommend to people in this situation?

Barrett: In my keynote presentations I remind people that you don't have to like the people you work with, but you do have to find a way to work respectfully together. In each case, having a conversation that sets the rules of engagement and agrees how you will work together really does help. You may find out that what you (mis)perceive as an annoying habit directed at you is simply a difference in style and approach, or misaligned expectations. Either way you can move forward more productively.

ALC: What's your hope for the book? What do you want people to achieve when they read it?

Barrett: Writing Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships has been an exciting journey. The book has come from the thousands of leadership programs and keynote presentations that I have delivered. Participants would come and ask where they could learn more and when the book would be available. Well the book is available now! 

In reading the book I want people to realize that cultivating professional relationships at work is not "soft and fluffy." Every success, every failure, is as a result of how you work with those around you. Your success is dependent on others, don't leave it to chance, apply the tactics I outline in the book and you will both achieve greater results.

ALC: You do a lot of presentations each year. What seems to be the number one question you get in those workshops?

Barrett: The number one question I get is, "is it too late to turn around a tense relationship?" The good news is the answer is no, it is never too late. In Cultivate I provide the strategies and tactics that can help establish what I describe as Ally relationships, I also share the six questions I use to take a "pulse check" of my critical relationships - here are three of those six questions:

  • What's working for you?
  • What's not working well?
  • What's one thing I could do differently to help our success?

Ask these, listen to the reply, and then DO something with that information and I guarantee the health of your working relationships will improve.

ALC: What's next for Morag Barrett?

Barrett: What's next for me? Most importantly is a spring break trip with my family and time away from the desk. After that I am continuing to grow my business SkyeTeam and to take the message of Cultivate across the globe, last count more than 20 countries and four continents. The title of the book Cultivate.The Power of Winning Relationships is no accident. The world of work is a team sport. My goal is to help others transform their professional relationships one conversation at a time, because, as it turns out, business is personal and relationships do matter!

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