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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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Chapter 12Embrace the Ebb and Flow of Relationships

Cultivating positive relationships makes a difference. We have given you a number of experiments to test out in your laboratory that can help you cultivate more positive relationships—with the people you manage, with your own manager, and even with your friends and family. Here is an important caveat. In any relationship, things are not always equal, and that can lead you to feel dissatisfied. If you let it.

Many of us carry around the notion that relationships between two people should be 50/50. In the ideal scenario, the burdens should be shared equally, and so should the rewards. While that would be nice, that is not reality. In reality, on any given day, one person in the relationship puts in more and carries more of the burden, even though the rewards are equally shared. Relationships have an ebb and flow. They may be 60/40 in one direction on some days and 70/30 in the opposite direction on other days. And this might not even out over time. But the rewards might be equally shared anyway. Is this fair? Is this equitable? Interestingly, yes.

As a manager, you have separate one-on-one relationships with each of your direct reports. And each person has different needs. One, for example, needs public recognition. Another needs to vent every other day. A third needs strong, clear direction and follow-up. Great managers put the needs of their people ahead of their own needs. Great managers understand that often they must do ...

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