Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) are faced with the unenviable task of bringing together disparate groups of people resistant to change. What can BRMs learn from great leaders to ensure they are respected and followed?
It’s understandable given the pressures to forge business improvements that you – the BRM – feels pressured into taking a dictatorial approach. It seems impossible to be the good guy when you are under the microscope, dealing with myriad problems and uncooperative people.
Unfortunately, corporate business people don’t respond well to the carrot-and-stick approach. In fact, in most cases, they will rebel against it, even if the person treating them in a negative way ultimately has their best interests at heart.
Instead, BRM should look to the world of leadership for inspiration. One of the traits that great leaders share is their ability to help, rather than hinder, their people. We can summarise this easily:
– Great leaders help and support the people to perform
– Poor leaders manage their staff as assets
BRMs are well advised to consider these points. A poor BRM will approach their role in confrontational terms, dictating changes, trying to force connections and shoehorn relationships in a way that helps them achieve their goals.
A great BRM is the polar opposite. This BRM has a different attitude. They learn the problems that unit leaders and business professionals experience in relation to technology. They sympathise with the challenges of delivering technology, understanding the limitations faced by IT professionals and manage expectations within the business.
The BRM then focuses on how they can eliminate bottlenecks, remove unhelpful processes, fix broken relationships and in essence make life better for each party. Sometimes these aims will contradict each other. Sometimes the BRM will have to relay to either IT or the business that it is not possible to help. And here is a crucial lesson.
Great leadership doesn’t come down to being ‘nice’ or ‘nasty’. BRMs must demonstrate a genuine interest in people and take the time to explain decisions, regardless of whether it will have a positive or negative impact on the recipient. The BRM must also be tough when the situation demands, especially when dealing with unreasonable people who refuse to consider the situation beyond how it directly influences them.
Great leaders communicate a clear vision of what they are doing and why to people. Rather than trying to ‘manage’ people, they take the time to learn the barriers that people face when trying to do their job. But beyond simply offering sympathy and a pat on the back, great leaders use their influence to try to change those elements causing problems for their people.
BRMs that follow the approach of helping rather than hindering (or managing) people will find they receive more support and respect than those BRMs using the tough line approach.