Doug Conant is known as a master of relationship building. As CEO of Campbell Soup Company he became well-known for his ability to make every interaction a building block of trust and engagement. Here is one of his tips from a recent blog post, Declaring Yourself:
Here’s how it works: the first hour of the first day I work with someone, I declare myself. I set aside an hour for a one-on-one meeting aimed at removing the mystery from our working relationship. Rather that unproductively spending the first few months working together trying to indirectly figure out what to expect from one another — I have found it to be much more productive to take the issue head on. Then, we can constructively focus on the challenges at hand as quickly as possible.
What Conant’s practice reveals is an understanding that every relationship is designed. You can be active or passive, intentional or accidental in that practice. When you are active and intentional, you create clarity, engineer accountability to be true to your word, and open the door for others to declare themselves to you. Opportunities and challenges come into the open where they can be dealt with. Trust is established.
Higher Ambition leaders must strive to excel at building open, trust-based relationships as they engage a variety of stakeholders. It is essential for creating a shared commitment to excel and ambitious efforts to create both social and financial value simultaneously. Conant’s advice is valuable for achieving mastery of this critical practice.
Doug Conant is a board member at the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership and one of the core faculty members in our Higher Ambition Leadership Institute — a program exclusively for individuals from Center member companies. He is the founder of ConantLeadership and serves as chairman of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute.