Who’s Got Your Back? 4 Keys to Building Trusting Work Relationships

trust-test-falling-into-coworkers-arms-Michelle-SmithIf you’ve ever had a boss, colleague, or group of people in your life who’ve offered exceptional advice or shepherded you in the right direction, you inherently understand the enormous power and potential of those relationships.

Unfortunately, many of us think serendipity, chemistry, or just plain luck is responsible for bringing deep, trusting business relationships into our lives. In fact, these relationships are best built by design.

Behind every great leader, at the base of every great tale of success, you’ll find an indispensable circle of trusted advisors, mentors, and colleagues.

What Lifeline Relationships Can Do For Us

These groups come in all forms and sizes and can be found at every level of professional life. What they all have in common is a unique connection with each other defined as lifeline relationships, which can help us:

  • Identify what success truly means for us, including our long-term career plan
  • Figure out the most robust plan possible to achieve our goals, through short-term objectives and strategies that would tie us in knots if we tried to go it alone
  • Identify what things we’re doing that hold us back from moving forward and achieving the success we deserve
  • Be surrounded by committed people ensuring we sustain change and transform our careers from good to great

4 Keys To Trusting Relationships

These relationships are, quite literally, why some people succeed far more than others, says Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success — And Won’t Let You Fail. Keith offers four core mind-sets that form the behavioral foundation for creating deep trusting relationships.

  1. Generosity – The commitment to mutual support begins with the willingness to show up and creatively share our deepest insights and ideas with the world. It’s the promise to help others succeed by whatever means we can muster and cracks open the door to a trusting emotional environment for creating relationships in which other mindsets can flourish.
  2. Vulnerability – Letting your guard down so mutual understanding can occur. Cross the threshold into a safe space after intimacy and trust have pushed the door wide open. The relationship engendered by generosity then moves toward a place of fearless friendship where risks are taken and invitations are offered to others.
  3. Candor – Be totally honest with those in which you confide. Vulnerability clears the pathways of feedback so you are able to share your hopes and fears. Candor allows us to begin to constructively interpret, respond to, and grapple with that information.
  4. Accountability – Follow through on the promises you make to others. Give and receive the feet-to-the-fire tough love through which real change is sustained. Reaching out to others for support isn’t about changing who you are, it’s about enlisting the help and advice of others to help you become the best you possible.

There’s a good chance that you’ve already experienced the power and potential of lifeline relationships at some point in your life. If we want to be as successful as we know we can be, we need the advice and feedback of people we trust.

What have you found to be the most successful method for building lifeline relationships?



Michelle M. Smith

Michelle M. Smith

Michelle M. Smith is Vice President, Marketing, of O.C. Tanner. A highly accomplished international speaker, author, and consultant on performance improvement, Michelle is a respected authority on leadership, internal branding and employee engagement. She’s published and presented more than 1,000 articles and lectures and is a trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful organizations and the governments of the UK and the US.

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