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Approach Work Relationships Strategically If You’re Trying to Make It to the Top

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As you advance in your career and climb the corporate ladder, your relationships with your peers are bound to get riskier and more complex; your collaborators can become, in many ways, your competitors. Here are three ways to effectively navigate these potentially messy — and critically important — relationships.

  • Don’t always expect friendship. While it’s important to be cordial, there’s a limit to how much emotional bonding is healthy as you ascend to the top. Keep it friendly, but maintain boundaries. Oversharing personal information can cause conflict and awkwardness in the long term.
  • Manage sideways. When you’re being considered for the executive ranks, leaders may ask your peers for their opinions about you. It’s often an informal dialogue and generally isn’t acknowledged as part of the formal performance review process, but it matters. So nurture your peer relationships, and stay attuned to how your colleagues experience you on a day-to-day basis.
  • Assess the political landscape. Candidly evaluate the behaviors that are rewarded in your organization. Figure out who gets promoted and why. Be strategic — broker mutually beneficial relationships with colleagues who are in favor and influential, and pursue mentors who make decisions and can sponsor your development.

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