Ep #71: Executive Relationships Part 1: The Fastest Way to Build Trust with the Leadership Team
Want to know one of the fastest ways to get a competitive edge in your organization?
Schedule a 1:1 meeting with a member of the leadership team.
About 90% of the corporate leaders I speak to aren’t scheduling meetings with leaders in their organizations.
And…I get it. Scheduling a 1:1 meeting with a high level executive can feel super intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before.
But not only is it a great way to really step into the driver’s seat of your career, it’s also one of the absolute best ways to immediately establish trust and position yourself as a senior executive leader-to-be.
(And guess what? Aside from my own students, almost no one else is doing it.)
So if you’re ready to stand out from the competition, I want you to schedule a 15-Minute Ally Meeting with a member of your leadership team today.
In this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer, I explain exactly how to do it.
This episode is Part 1 of a 3-part podcast series I am doing entitled: Executive Relationships.
Each episode of Executive Relationships will dive into an aspect of how to build and leverage the kind of relationships that will help you advance your career, have a greater impact, and enjoy a stronger voice at the leadership table.
What You'll Learn:
- How to know if you’re actually building trust with the leadership team
- What a ‘controllable career strategy’ is (and why it’s the only kind of strategy you should be using)
- Why most corporate managers fail to get mentors and sponsors
- How creating “teaching situations” with the leadership team erodes trust
- How to properly prepare for your very own 15-Minute Ally Meeting
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Ep #37: How to Build Trust at Work Using ‘15-Minute Ally’ Meetings
- Sally Helgesen’s How Women Rise
- Download my Promotion Roadmap
- Connect with me on LinkedIn
- Join the waitlist for my 6-week group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time
Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer. And super excited, as always, to be here with you guys again this week.
Last week, I talked about how I was kind of cracking myself up because as the world seems to be reopening and reemerging with the vaccine coming out and it seems like: 'OK, we're going to get go through another shift in our world...' I felt the desire to do all the things that I didn't do during the pandemic, like take advantage of these online yoga classes.
And this morning I was doing another online yoga class with a teacher that I really love. And it's so exciting to be a part of her experience. And the reason that I'm bringing it up again is because I realized that I am doing this on purpose and I wanted to share that with you.
So a lot of times we have an initial gut reaction to do something. So we feel the world shifting and changing. And so we're like, oh, gosh, I have to take advantage of all those things I didn't do, that I promised to do this year if I had more time, if I had more space. And so I've got to do it all right now.
And so that was sort of what I was feeling last week. But as I sort of settled into the yoga class this morning, I realized that the reason that I was doing the yoga class and quote unquote, taking advantage of these opportunities and these changes in the world, is actually because as I move into this next transition, as I move into the new phase of the world remerging, things opening up, children going back to school, commute's happening again, you know, being face to face with people getting busy, all of those things that come with change.
I wanted to stay grounded. I wanted to be reminded of myself and that I have these tools to stay focused and centered and grounded throughout all of this. And I think a huge part of change and the ability to pivot is really the ability to check-in with yourself, the ability to make bold choices rather than reacting and being a reaction mode all the time. And you know this as a wish, right? You know this as a dream. And maybe you, and I hope so, hopefully you have experiences at certain moments in your life. But I just want to offer that to you as you're going into this next phase, this transition. What are some of those things that maybe you didn't take advantage of over the last year that you could use as an opportunity to reconnect with yourself, to reconnect with your family, whatever that is, as we start to move into this next phase so that you could bring yourself along with you. And that's the fastest, easiest way to not turn into reaction mode. So I just wanted to offer that to you this morning as we get started in this week's episode. And it's also a perfect segway and transition into our transition.
So I realized in looking back over the last 70 episodes of my podcast that I don't talk a lot about my advanced level trainings. So you hear me talking about what I teach inside of Executive Ahead Of Time, but I haven't spoken very much about what I teach inside of the Promotion Accelerator, which is my advanced level training for graduates who have either gone through Executive Ahead Of Time or want that next level of training inside of what I teach in terms of going for that next promotion, but really having success once you get there. So really taking everything that we talk about inside of Executive Ahead Of Time and putting it into practice inside of the Promotion Accelerator.
So over the next three episodes, I'm going to do a three part series about leveraging relationships. This is a huge huge, huge, huge, huge piece of the advanced level trainings that I teach and work on and coach my clients through. And I'm going to share with you why it is an advanced level training and why it's not an entry level training.
So expect that basically I'm breaking it into three parts. And this first part in today's episode, we're going to be talking about building trust. So why are we leveraging relationships? It's to build trust that we are ready to lead at a higher executive level. So I'm going to break down all of that, all of the nuances of building trust and how you can begin to start doing that at your own organization.
In the next episode, I'm going to be talking about the traditional way that we view leveraging relationships, which is sort of networking or what we actually need from the other person. So it's kind of the idea of expanding your LinkedIn portfolio, expanding your network, also making sure that you're expanding your network internally. So who are those people that you literally just know? And more importantly, if you're if you're going looking for a job, who are those people who can introduce you to other people? Who are those people who can introduce you internally or sponsor you for your next promotion, those types of things. So that's the second part of the series.
And then the third part of this series is how to build your own personal board of directors. So I've actually talked about that a little bit on the podcast before, but I'm going to go even deeper and really talk about all of the different people that need to be on your personal board of directors, how you maintain those relationships over time, and then how you transition a mentor style relationship into something where you are actually asking for support, when you are asking for sponsorship, when you are when you do actually need something from these people.
So those are the three parts of the series and like I said today, we're going to be talking about building trust.
And building trust is one of the six core training modules inside of Executive Ahead Of Time. And before I move in to the advanced level training, I want to share with you what it is that we work on an Executive Ahead Of Time. And basically, when you come to me at that point, you realize that there is probably something that you could be doing differently. Most of the women inside of the program are very head down, meaning that they're doing their work. They're really good at their work and they're focusing on that. And then they kind of look up all of a sudden, they realize they're getting passed over for promotions. They're getting passed over for opportunities and they're thinking: 'You know, I really could be doing something different.'
So they come inside of Executive Ahead Of Time and I teach them a concept called 15-Minute Ally Meetings. And I have an episode that I'll link to in the show, notes about 15-Minute Ally Meetings so you can learn more about that concept itself. But basically, it's a series of 15-minute meetings that you're having with senior executive leadership to essentially build trust with them and all break down also in today's episode, what that means and how you'll know if you're actually building trust in these meetings.
But I first just wanted to share with you that the the ideas that we're just having a bunch of meetings with people. And and so at the point of Executive Ahead Of Time, they're coming into this six week group coaching intensive, having not having any meetings. So the only person they're meeting with on a regular basis is their boss. And if they have some sort of relationship with their boss's boss, it looks a little bit more like a work related relationship. So you're talking about work. They might know who you are and then you could have a mentor or something at your organization, but you feel like you're not really using that mentor very well. You're not quite sure if you're wasting their time. You feel a little embarrassed reaching out to them and asking for more. So this is all very normal. I want you to know if you're listening to this episode and you're like: wow, I don't even do meetings, I want you to know that's like the 90 percent. That is the that that is what most people are doing. They're not proactively doing meetings. And the next thing I want to share with you is that I created 15-Minute Ally Meetings as a result, as a direct result, of the pandemic.
So what was happening back in March and April of 2020 is that a lot of the women that I was taught were talking to, they relied on bumping into certain people in the hallway or somebody popping into their office.
So those were essentially their 15-Minute Ally Meetings. And they they got used to them. So they were building relationships accidentally, essentially, you know, I was like somebody would pop into their office or they would just choose on the fly to pop into somebody else's office. And then a year goes by and now we're all virtual and it feels like they have lost those relationships and rightfully so, because they have essentially. But the first thing that I want to point out to you is that the strategy of bumping into people in the hallway is not actually a strategy. It's a thing that happens. Right. And so when you turn it into a strategy, a strategy is a 15-Minute Ally Meetings, a series of ally meetings that you're actually measuring. Am I moving forward? Am I building trust with these executives? How do I know what what's the purpose? Those are more strategic meetings. When you're doing them, they're recreatable. You can do them over and over. Over and over and over again, and it essentially becomes your strategy, right? And so that's why it's so important to know that it's OK that you haven't been doing this. It's OK that you relied on bumping into the people in the hallway. But like I shared at the beginning of this episode, as we start to transition back into the office, as we start to transport, transition back to our old way of working, let's not fall back into our old habits.
Let's just be like: 'Oh, thank goodness I get to get back into the office and then maybe I'll build relationships.' No, what if, instead, you decided to create these own 15-Minute Ally Meetings for yourself? Yes, it was created out of the pandemic, but it's not something you can't you stop doing. You can keep doing that because then that is a controllable strategy. You have a trust building strategy so that you can continue to grow your career and quite honestly, so that you can be better at your job. Because as you start to become a vice president, a senior vice president, you know, an executive at your organization, you are going to need all of those different people around you to help you out. So one of our our last group coaching session inside of Executive Ahead Of Time, we were talking about this idea of building trust and really breaking down the 15-Minute Ally Meetings and one of our participants in the group, I want to share with you what she said. She said:
'I think this is such a good idea because if we can get over the awkwardness of these 15-minute catch ups and actually do them, we will be the only ones in our peer groups that will actually get the benefit of these meetings. I would have never thought of doing these if you didn't encourage it, Stacy. I am sure others aren't doing it.'
One hundred and fifty percent. They are not doing it. You would know if they were doing it. You would have heard of this before, if people were doing it. And think about it, the only way you're going to get the benefit of the 15-minute meetings is if you actually do them. So I think that it's brilliant. I'm so glad that she pointed that out and it's 150 percent true.
So when we're building trust at our organization, this is a strategy. This is something that we're proactively doing. And the benefit of proactively doing it means that it's recreational. We're no longer a victim to our corporation. Right. They're no longer in charge of our career choices. They're no longer in charge of who we have trust with, who we build alliances with, who you know, it's not just up to our boss whether or not we get promoted. There is so much power inside of leveraging relationships, which is why I am bringing this up into three very special in-depth podcast episodes for each and every one of you.
Now, I talked about how inside of the Promotion Accelerator what we're doing is advanced trainings, right? So you get all of the basics in an Executive Ahead Of Time. You get all of the tools, literally everything that you need for the next ten, twenty years of your career. If you want to start to take ownership of your career, if you want to continuously be able to get your promotion, your next promotion, the next promotion, if you want to have those allies at your organization and if you want to have a promotion blueprint for the rest of your career, everything is right there inside of Executive Ahead Of Time. Everything, all of the tools are there. But because so many people are coming into that program, having not really built out those relationships, no matter what level they're at, I have senior vice presidents that aren't doing this work, because everybody's busy. We get busy. And so it's difficult to put this energy into this if you really don't know what they're for. So I tell you to create fifteen minute ally meetings and you're like: 'OK, but what the heck are we going to talk about?' So it's difficult to do things if you don't know why you're doing it and what you're supposed to say. So that's where I come in. OK, because I want you to not only do it, but I want them to be effective.
So the reason why I point out that this is an advanced training is I want you to think about a women's leadership book or a resource or a training or something that you have heard or read in your life about women's leadership. There are a lot of tenants right at the beginning that talk about what it takes to get women ahead.
And one of those tenants is having strong mentors and sponsors. So usually it's chapter one, chapter two. Chapter three and I worked in women's leadership for a very long time. It was something that we taught right out of the gate. We so we basically just sprayed it out there and told everybody, you know what? You need mentors and you need sponsors. And we even gave them the tools to go and get them.
But the problem is, is that at that. Entry level... So when you're not doing meetings at all, going out and getting mentors and sponsors is very difficult. And the reason is, is because we're still building up our internal leadership confidence. We're transitioning from seeing ourselves as that subject matter expert into seeing ourselves as that executive leader. And so we are willing to schedule meetings and we'll do it. And usually they're an hour long, first of all. This is another reason why the 15-Minute Ally Meetings are so brilliant. It's like, don't let's not do that to ourselves. 15-minutes, people. One hour long meetings. We expect the executive to come up with the agenda. And so we show up at that meeting and then we don't really know what to talk about. Maybe we have a couple of good questions that we found on the Internet or something. But essentially that executive that is our becoming our mentor been assigned to us, we're expecting them to drive the conversation. Everything that I teach is about you deliberately managing your own career and your own life. We are no longer expecting other people to drive these conversations. We are in the driver's seat. And so it takes a little bit of time to get into the driver's seat.
So out of the gate, we're like, OK, yeah, mentors and sponsors. I read that and the women's leadership book and I'm going to go do it. And and then we do it and it kind of falls flat and we're like, oh, I don't know, I'm kind of wasting their time and they're just teaching me and, you know, and so one of the problems with this is not just because it feels like a waste of time for the executive, but it starts to actually work against us so you can feel it. This is why you cut off the meetings as you realize that you're being taught, that these have turned into trainings. So this mentor is now teaching you as if you're inadequate.
So let me tell you about another student inside of Executive Ahead Of Time. And he told us last week that he had scheduled a meeting with an old boss of his that had now moved into a different part of the organization. And he wanted to meet with his this boss because he wanted to learn about transitioning from a technical role into more of a leadership role. And he's realizing that this this is major block, that this is the thing that keeps coming up for him over and over again is: 'How do I see myself as a leader instead of a subject matter expert?'
And so everything is great up until this point. He's he scheduled the meeting. Fantastic. I love it. This is everything that I encouraged him to do. And his purpose at the meeting was very clear. But the challenge is, is that he turned it into a teaching meeting. So he started asking for a ton of advice and like, you know, sharing like what wasn't working. And. Yeah, and I'm just not sure. And, you know, and complaining about different people at the Organa, not like specifically about people at the organization, but just challenges that he was facing and, you know, and so then this other person feels the need to fix him. He's not broken. I know that. Nothing is actually wrong. He just wants a little bit of advice on how to move from a technical role into a leadership role. Great. But then we have this tendency when we're in the presence of very important people to kind of forget about our power and forget about how qualified we already are. And so then we turn it into this teaching situation. So it actually starts to erode trust. And so that's the first lesson that I want to share with you today in terms of leveraging relationships so that you can build trust with the other people. You have to come to the table with an agenda. You have to come to the table with confidence, with authority. Right. You have to know what it is like, what your value is that you bring to the organization. And that takes time, right? It takes exploration. It takes a six week group coaching intensive called Executive Ahead Of Time to really understand your own personal value and worth.
So now we get into the Promotion Accelerator program. Now we can really talk about getting mentors and sponsors. Now we can talk about leveraging those relationships because our self concept, our confidence, our ability to take ownership of both our career and the way we're communicating about our accomplishments is already there. Right. So so this is a huge transition.
And I just want you to see the difference. So if you're somebody that's like. Yeah, yeah, I've leveraged relationships in the past, it doesn't work, it's been really difficult for me. Yeah, I had a mentor, it fell off, it didn't work out. I'm not really sure how to even do these calls. It's totally normal. And I get it. But, just like going back to those women's leadership books, the reason why this is included in Chapter two and three is because it is it is important, right? Leveraging relationships ultimately is everything. So when we talk about transitioning from being a manager to an executive leader, it really is about leveraging relationships. Think about it. That person that keeps getting promoted and you're like: 'Oh, they're not even qualified. You know, I know ten times more than them.' They just know the right people. It's true. They do know the right people.
Now, I want to transition that into how do we build trust with the right people, because I know that if you're listening to my podcasts, you are somebody that cares more about having actual relationships than just using people, right? So that is not what we're talking about. We're not talking about creating a series of 15-Minute Ally Meetings so that you can schmooze your way to the top, right? No, that is not what we want to do here. What I am talking about is using these 15-Minute Ally Meetings to build trust within your organization. So now I want to break this down for you a little bit so that you can actually walk away from today's episode and you can start scheduling this 15-Minute Ally Meetings and start knowing if you're building trust within this organization. So the first thing that I want you to realize is that your boss is not the only person who can promote you. So meaning if your boss really loves you, then she can't go to the executive team and be like, you know what, I think Suzanne needs to be a senior vice president. If nobody on the executive team has a relationship with you. It's very difficult for her.
Now, let's say that her boss actually comes to her and says, hey, what are we doing with Susan's career? Let's see if we can get her into an SVP position stat. Now your boss has leverage. And the same goes on the reverse. If you don't have a great or strong relationship with your boss, your boss is not the only person in charge of your career. So that is something that I just want you to know as you're starting to build these relationships. Let's stop focusing just on our boss and let's expand it into the rest of the organization.
Now, part of the reason that these 15-Minute Ally Meetings are so brilliant is because they're short. And so a lot of people will say yes to a 15-minute meeting. Now, you'll notice if you reach out to your CEO and you say: 'Hey, I'd like to get on your schedule for a 15-minute meeting, his assistant might actually schedule it for 30 minutes or 45 minutes or a full hour. And that's great, right? Totally fine. But what you're asking for is 15-minutes. OK. So it says to that executive, I respect your time. This is a quick catch up, right? It's not really a long a long, drawn out meeting. So that's the first thing is that it shows: I respect your time and this is what I want to talk about.
The other thing is, is that because it is such a short meeting, you have to be extremely strategic about it. You can't just go into the meeting and sort of feel your way through it and be like: 'Well, we'll see what happens.' It's more like: 'No, we have 15-minutes. This is how I'm going to organize my time. This is why I wanted to meet with you today.
And then the other thing, the third piece of these meetings, is that it leads into the next meeting. Because it's only 15-minutes, it leaves them wanting more. Right. Usually this meeting will go quite well. It's never too long. It feels very good, feels very informative. And then you're like: 'OK, here's another meeting.'
Now, I said that one of the ways that you're going to start to build trust that you can lead at a higher executive level is to start to show executives that you take ownership of your career. So not only is it important for you to begin taking ownership of your career, right. So like, you don't just let things happen by happenstance. In terms of building trust, you're showing the executive team that I take ownership of my career. Therefore, I also take ownership of my work at this company, my role at this company.
Inside of the book, How Women Rise, there's a quote that I want to share with you:
'It amazed me to realize that the women's tendency to focus on their work rather than effectively communicating what they were doing got interpreted as a lack of commitment. This seemed counterintuitive, because you'd think hard work would demonstrate loyalty.'
And the reason why I share that quote with you is because when you're proactively having these 15-minute conversations, when you are saying: 'OK, this is this is what we're going to talk about, this is how I have it planned out.' And then at the end of the meeting you're saying: 'Let's do it again next month.' You're being extremely proactive and you're communicating your value and you're communicating: 'Hey, I am here. I am here at this organization for the long haul. I want to stay here.' It's showing your commitment to leveraging relationships, which is a requirement at a senior executive leadership role. So do you see where I'm going here?
The other thing is, is that you are showing as you're doing this, as you're forced to do these types of meetings, you start to realize where you're not doing it in your job. You start to realize: 'Oh, at that meeting, I was only checking in about the details. I wasn't effectively communicating the work that I did to put into that. The decision making work, the high level strategy of it, how it ties into the organizational strategy. I was just communicating what I did.'
And so as you start to do these 15-Minute Ally Meetings, you realize what you're not doing all across the board. You start to understand what's actually important to the executive team. You start to really know how you're perceived. You build up your confidence by doing right rather than just thinking about it: 'Oh, well. I wish I could be more confident. Or if I was more confident, then I would raise my hand.'
Because you're having these meetings on a regular basis, they may even call you out at a team meeting and be like: 'Yesterday I was talking to Laura and Laura shared with me, blah, blah, blah.'
I had another client that said that her CEO threw her under the bus because she was doing these 15-Minute Ally Meetings with her CEO. And to me she's like: 'Oh, my god. Hhe threw me under the bus.'
And I was like: 'What do you mean?'
And she said: 'Well, he mentioned this really big idea that I shared with him and one of our meetings and and he mentioned it to everybody. So now I actually have to do it.'
And I was like: 'Yes.'
And she was like: 'Well, yes, of course. That's what I want to be doing. I want to be doing this higher level strategic projects.'
And then I coached her, I said: 'OK, so what are we going to let go of? What what are we going to delegate to your team so that you can have time to focus on this?'
It's basically like she got exactly what she wanted. She wasn't thrown under the bus. She was applauded in a public forum. That's what we say we want. But it's very hard when it actually happens to us. We're like: 'ahhh. Oh, my goodness.'
But be careful. If you start doing these 15-Minute Ally Meetings, if you start building trust with leadership in this way, you are going to start to get tapped more and more. You're going to get called out. And it's a really, really good thing, because I want you to check in with yourself. What is it that you really want? Do you want that text in the middle of the night that says: 'Hey, I want to run something by you? I have this really big meeting tomorrow with the board. And I thought, you know what, I have to talk to you first.'
Those are the kind of conversations we want to be having rather than, hey, can you fix this bug? That's our subject matter expertise. That's the stuff we can do in our sleep. That's not the stuff that's going to sustain us for the next 20 years of our career.
So I know that you want more. I know that you're capable of more and I know that you're ready for more. And so the way you're going to start to do it is by building trust with the executive team.
Remember, if this doesn't feel easy, it's because it's an advanced level concept. But the first step is getting started. Just like my client in Executive Ahead of Time time said: 'If we can get over the awkwardness of it, then we can realize we're the only ones doing this.' It's huge. It is so, so, so huge.
Now, in next week's episode, I'm going to be talking about how to actually leverage those relationships in terms of when I want something. Like my network and also relationships internally, like: 'Hey, I want to be promoted. Hey, I want to work for you.' Those types of things. So we're going to be talking about more of that direct ask, how do we start to do that?
And then in the third part of the series, I'm going to be sharing with you what that personal board of directors really looks like and really breaking that down in terms of who needs to be on it and what those regular mentor style and sponsorship conversations look like on a regular basis. But for today, I really just want you to know it's your job to take ownership of your career. It's your job to start scheduling meetings with executives, with your boss's boss, begin leveraging those relationships so that you can build trust, so that when an opportunity presents itself, you are the first person that you think of.
Thank you so much for listening. And I'll see you next week.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.