“You need to tell him he can’t talk about your team that way”

The advice I received from my boss in response sharing a story with him about how a leader of another investment business in the organization was speaking critically about my team, their skills, and value.

I was leading a sales team focused on investment acquisition and despite the fact that my team had generated over $1 Billion of new business for the organization, and received positive feedback from clients, he was making disparaging comments.

I reminded my boss, who was an SVP, that the other channel leader was his peer, and very senior to me. And while I had met him, we had no relationship. He was a senior executive and I was not yet a VP.

His comment, “You need to speak to him in person and clearly, confidently, and professionally, tell him to stop. It needs to come from you”. He said nothing else.

So I booked a meeting. Travelled to his office. Sat down across from him and after a few seconds of cordial pleasantries – including ensuring he knew who I was and what I did – I said;

“It has come to my attention that you have been publicly critical of my team, their skills, and their value. Not even taking into account the significant business we have referred to your channel, we work for the same company. You need to stop being critical of my team. And I would appreciate it if you would publicly acknowledged the value of the business we have referred to you.”

He took in my words, paused, looked at me, and said, “You’re right. I shouldn’t speak this way about your team”.

I stood up, reached across his desk for a handshake, and he added, “And send me an email with some details on the business your team has referred to us, I want to ensure my leaders are aware.”

We never had this problem again and the overall relationship between our businesses improved.

A huge win for my business, and for me personally. On reflection four key learnings:

  1. Don’t air your grievances publicly. Address issues directly, professionally, and in person.
  2. Speak confidently to facts without emotion. There are times emotion is required, but not always at the start.
  3. Hierarchy and level are often easy places to hide behind and justify inaction. They are only issues if you allow them to be.
  4. Don’t try to delegate away what you need to do yourself. Your confidence and credibility will both be enhanced.

One of the key learnings in my career. One which I can attribute to my SVP for his coaching, and for not doing my job for me!

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