"He can be awfully shrewd and is always looking for an angle, but
you eventually realize that he has got the company's best interests at heart."
"She can be very forward and biting with her ideas and opinions, but
she is also willing to take the time to listen carefully to your point of view."
George Hallenbeck who manages Korn/Ferry's Lomiger
suite of products says that in executive successes, it's often what comes after the but
that is important.
Executives are often hard charging drivers who are not out to please people but are focused on getting results. It is what comes after but
, what we call saving graces, that make up for the other negative characteristics.
These serve to balance the strengths that have got the executives to where they are, so that they don't take over and damage their efforts.
They have another purpose too. Because they contribute to perceptions of the executive as someone who is trustworthy and considerate, they can help you win over other people who will then share information with you and allow you to gain access to valuable resources.
The top seven saving graces: 1. Listening
- Taking the time to listen can help you more than the remainder of the saving graces. It is the ultimate way of saying that it is not about you. It is an excellent way of breaking down barriers. Only the best executives are good listeners. 2. Approachability
- Executives need to know information early on, especially negative information. The best of the breed are easy to talk to even when the information being conveyed is bad. To be extra effective, approachability has to be combined with listening. Many executives immediately begin with probing questions. The best executives don't - not until the time is right. 3. Boss Relationship
- It is difficult to swim alone, especially if you venture into dangerous waters. It is helpful to have the advice, counsel and support of a veteran boss who can coach you going in to such situations and help rescue you out of them. Remember, making the boss successful is Job #One. 4. Integrity and Trust
- This one is self-explanatory. The people who work with you and who look up to you, will often forgive lapses if they know that you always speak the truth and mean what you say. 5. Humor
- This is so underrated. The most effective form of humor is self-deprecating humor. It makes others comfortable and makes you appear more approachable and puts others at ease. 6. Interpersonal Savvy
- Connecting with people above and below, as well as inside and outside the organization gives you support when things are not going so well. Knowing what to say and when to say it can make unpopular decisions more palatable. 7. Understanding Others
- This is more about understanding the group than knowing the individual. This is more difficult than listening because it involves differentiating one group from another and what their needs are versus those of the others.
Saving graces are not there to be used in the case of emergency. They are character traits that are developed and become part of the fabric of the executive. When someone thinks about you, they understand what tempers your drive, power and results. They smooth out the rough edges and compensate in areas where those who don't possess them may falter.