The past week has seen the internet explode with hashtags of #bff and #bromance as people commented on the close rapport between President Obama and Vice President Biden. They seem to have an infectious connection and it is heartwarming to see two persons who work together show this level of affection, unwavering support, and respect for each other. Just as importantly, this level of rapport and close connection can set the stage for stronger partnerships and the opportunity to achieve greatness together. While not all your professional relationships will have this type of depth, there are a number of things you can do create the giving, nurturing, and supportive environment for deep professional bonds like the Biden-Obama bond to flourish.
1) Being a giver
I am sure that it is not difficult for you to think of “givers” : someone who takes the time to sponsor, mentor, encourage or support others. When this person comes to mind, does your lips involuntarily curl in a smile? Does your mind race thinking of what opportunities, advice, job notices, recommendations or introductions that you could give that person without them even asking?
In contrast, there are the “takers” who reach out when they need something, be it advice, a job, a recommendation, an introduction etc while not seeking to invest in the other person or the relationship. This type of relationship may feel one-sided and understandably, you may not feel inspired to go out of your way to help a taker.
If you are hoping to build strong Obama-Biden bonds, then it helps to be a giver. We may not be in the position to bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award to the givers we know but we can actively seek out ways to add value to others. Adam Grant wrote a book on this topic and you can find out if you are a giver or taker here.
2) Caring and taking time to care
During my time at CARE Ecuador, I was taken aback by the space that existed to actually care about your colleagues. At the year-end dinner, colleagues broke down crying as they said goodbye to colleagues who would be leaving the organization. We are so often taught to be professionals that we sometimes forget that we can be professionals and still show we care. Some examples could be:
- Remembering to send your congratulations when others land new jobs or achieve a major accomplishment, get a promotion or celebrate important work anniversary or milestone. Depending on the occasion, relationship and age or personality of the person, you could consider writing personalized hand written cards for an added touch.
- Always saying thank you when someone helps, and remembering to keep them up-to-date. If they meet you for an informational interview for example, send a thank you email within 24 – 48 hours pointing out one or two key takeaways you gleaned from the conversation.
- Sending a card, flowers, or your regards, if that person is unwell or has suffered a loss.
- Taking time to remember things that are important to the person. In different cultures, people may respond differently to being asked about their spouse, children, pet, job, project, or hobby but at the very least, you should try to listen.
- Making sure to follow up on actions you promised to make or to ask how the person has progressed on whatever you spoke about.
- Always mean it when offering to help!
For a deeper reading on how to view professional relationships more appreciatively, I highly recommend Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success.
3) Supporting their career
There are a number of ways to support someone’s career to let them know that you are cheering for them in the background.
a) Supporting their LinkedIn
- In addition to liking, sharing and commenting on their posts, also checking in the pending section of groups on LinkedIn to see if any of your connections have requested to join, in which case you could approve their request.
b) Sharing resources
- You could ask what the person may be interested and send those resources or opportunities if you come across it. (Great sources if you are meeting with younger persons and may not be able to offer anything but advice for finding opportunities are Opportunity Desk, Youthop and Edu-active)
c) Being a connector
- You could be the wing-person during networking events, highlighting your peers’ skills or a major accomplishment when making introductions.
- You could also offer to connect people with similar interests thereby encouraging synergy (but be sure to ask both sides before making the connection as you have a responsibility to both connections to respect their time and expertise.)
I hope that this article gave you ideas on how to create the giving and supportive space for the kinds of #bff Obama-Biden partnerships that leads to greatness to grow.
Over to you!
What are your secrets to building meaningful partnerships and relationships in the workplace? What great projects have you achieved because of a key Obama-Biden like partnership or relationship?
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