September 2016 | Nano Tools | Leadership
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributor: G. Richard Shell, Thomas Gerrity Professor, Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and Management, The Wharton School; author of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success (Portfolio Penguin: 2013).
Influence others by understanding and developing “friendships of utility.”
At every stage in your career, from new leader to seasoned CEO, you need the support and influence of people you do not know well to get things done. Aristotle had a name for these kinds of relationships. He called them “friends of utility” — the practical, work-based friends who are neither the people closest to you (he called these your “friends of virtue”) nor the people you see mainly when you are looking to relax and have a good time (whom he called your “friends of pleasure”).
Normal, working relationships with friends of utility, those that occupy the 9-to-5 part of our day, are critical to our career success. Can you expand your network of these friends without either implicitly promising a closer relationship than you really want or ending up pretending to have fun with people who are, truth to tell, no fun at all? Of course, if you are a boss, your formal and informal authority will rally friends of utility to your team and the relationship boundaries may be easier to define. But what if you’re new to an organization, a team, or a business unit? How can you build working relationships to help you connect with others and solve the problems you are being paid to solve — without getting into ambiguous relationships that keep you up at night? These five action steps can help guide the social engagement needed to do just that.
To quickly and successfully make “friends of utility,” follow these five rapport-building, boundary-defining steps:
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions at Wharton Executive Education. It is jointly sponsored by Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, Wharton Professor of Management Michael Useem, Director. Nano Tools Academic Director is Professor John Paul MacDuffie, Professor of Management at the Wharton School and Director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation (PVMI) at Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management.
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