I am fortunate to speak with hundreds of executives each year, in addition to those that I follow and track. Over the years, I have learned a lot about success, what works and what doesn’t, from these talented leaders.

One area that successful executives have in common is their ability to get the best out of their corporate relationships. No matter the discipline of the C-suite executive, their technical ability is just the base upon which they start having an impact on their organization. The CXO is not an island, but is integrated into an ecosystem that is mutually dependent. The success of any executive relies on others. Those who recognize, nurture and sustain successful corporate relationships are those that accomplish more.

My blogging and recent book, Guide to CFO Success, focuses on my primary audience, the CFO and the Office of Finance. Some of the content is CFO specific, but the guidance with respect to relationships applies across the executive suite. Guide to CFO Success spends a few chapters dealing with relationship management for the Chief Financial Officer. A key tool in this discussion is my CFO Relationship Map, a copy of which is visible below.

While I created the Relationship Map for my discussion with my Finance audience, this Relationship Map is useful to all executives who wish to succeed in their own environment.

The Relationship Map is a graphical representation of the areas of corporate relationships. They include who you work for (at the top of the map), who you work with (internally, on the right of the map, and externally on the left), as well as those that support you (your team).

In the CFO Relationship Map, you’ll notice that the CFO reports to the CEO, Board and Investors, and works with the other executives of the company internally. The CFO has a number of important outside relationships, which can include bankers, lawyers, auditors and other advisors. And, as I say in my book, the CFO can only be as good as the team they have allows them to be.

Depending on your own situation, your personal Relationship Map will look different. However, like other executives, you have people you work for, work with internally as well as externally, and have people that support you.

When I start coaching a financial executive, I have them assess their own corporate relationships using the Relationship Map. I ask them to identify the relationships they have in each of the four areas, and then ask them to rate them using colors. The names highlighted in green have good relationships, those that are colored yellow are relationships that need attention, and the people that are highlighted in red need special attention for improvement. This dashboard sets the stage for some of the work I do in my executive coaching for finance executives.

When I work with financial executives to improve their corporate relationships, they usually find that prior to creating their own Relationship Map they did not realize all the corporate relationships they actually had. With this awareness, they are able to properly focus on maintaining and improving these relationships. In some cases, the map helped my CFOs realize which relationships they have been overlooking previously.

Visibly identifying your own relationships allows you to be more aware of who you need to work with. Only then can you take the steps necessary to improve these important relationships. You can map out your own relationship, using the blank Relationship Map or creating your own. Once your have identified your important corporate relationships, you can work to improve them and further impact your own success within your organization. To do this, I recommend that you create your own color coded dashboard to identify which relationships need the most attention. Then you can create your personal action plan to get the best out of these relationships.

Executive success is about managing and exceeding expectations. The key to this is to first understand who has expectations from you. Only then can you come up with a plan to actively improve the relationships you have to succeed.


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