Skill Building Series: Interpersonal Savvy

Leaders In The Weeds: It’s A Problem

Lucy has recently been promoted to Senior Director of her global team. She is a strong action oriented worker, but she often finds herself spending time overseeing meetings and processes and checking the data analysis of her staff. Not only is she having difficulty keeping up with her workload, her staff was starting to complain that she was running the show and not valuing their contributions to the work.

When Lucy came to me, she recognized she needed help to break her habit of managing the processes and data and get into more of a leadership mindset. So we started by identifying what leadership meant to her in her new role.

A More Desirable Outcome

As a leader, it is important to provide clarity of vision, mission, and a path for your team to follow. Lucy wanted to be less of a manager (get out of the weeds / details) and more of a leader and advisor to her team.

As an anywhere leader, many of the obstacles that are blocking the path of success are related to communication and relationship building. Lucy wanted to to strengthen these skills and remove those obstacles for her team.

After assessing her current skill levels in the areas of interpersonal communication and interpersonal savvy, we identified interpersonal savvy as an area of initial focus.

For Lucy, interpersonal savvy meant that she related well to all kinds of people both in and out of the organization. It includes building rapport, using diplomacy, and building effective relationships.

The benefit of building this skill included not only helping her team develop these skills but also to help remove the obstacles they faced in implementing their action plans.

Knowing that being a master at interpersonal savvy would help her team both now and in the future (their development) was the motivation Lucy needed to take action.

The Path Forward

First we started by having Lucy define specific behaviors that represented interpersonal savvy in her specific situation. They include:

  • Setting the tone of approachability in the first few minutes (of meetings, interactions)
  • Listening more actively and with positive regard to clearly understand the other’s perspective
  • Sharing openly to put others at ease so they feel ok with disclosing information

Second we established a schedule for Lucy to reach out to and build rapport with key stakeholders. Things we considered when planning the interactions:

  • The other person’s communication preference (in-person, phone, email, chat)
  • The frequency of the interaction based on their role and their style
  • The focus of the interaction based on what is important to them as well as the objective of the overall mission

TIP: Lucy found it helpful to think of herself as a diplomat. Just like a person appointed by a nation to maintain relations with other countries, Lucy could use this approach to maintain relations with the diverse team members and stakeholders in her role.


Examine your role and responsibilities. Are you getting in the way of your team or are you clearing the path for them?



About The Skill Building Series

The anywhere worker is designing, building, and leading the future of anywhere work. There are many skills needed to be successful as an anywhere leader. In this serious, we will meet several virtual / anywhere leaders who have sought coaching. In each session we look at the presenting problem, the desired outcome, and an action plan. Not surprising is the need for these skills in any leader – anywhere.

I may have changed the names (to protect the clients) but the situations presented are very real. Don’t be surprised if you see yourself in any of these scenarios.