Are you still living with the fantasy that relationships should be 50/50? If you want to be a manager who makes a difference, we encourage you to embrace the reality that relationships ebb and flow. Some days relationship investments from the two parties might be 60/40. Other days they might be 30/70. And over time some relationships may never even out to 50/50.

As a manager, you may need to be the one who does more of the heavy lifting to find the sweet spot in your relationships with the people on your team. And we want you to know it’s worth it! In our experience, the very best managers and leaders have no problem doing the heavy lifting in relationships with their people (sometimes the power differential makes it necessary for them to do so) because it helps them achieve higher performance, engagement and retention that drive growth, goal attainment and profitability.

Listen in as Larry Sternberg, Kyle Bruss and I discuss questions like:

  • How do egos play into the ebb and flow of relationships?
  • What are the roles of empathy and emotional intelligence in embracing the ebb and flow?
  • How can replacing the question, “Is this fair?” with a better question, “Is the value I’m getting out of this relationship worth the effort I’m putting into it?” help you make peace with the ebb and flow?
  • How does the ebb and flow of relationships bump up against the difference between abundance and scarcity, and the difference between zero-sum games versus positive-sum games?

On all our podcasts and blog posts, you have an opportunity to talk back to us through comments and emails. We hope to hear from you! Until next time, manage to make a difference every day!


This post highlights Chapter 11 of Managing to Make a Difference (Wiley), a handbook for hitting the sweet spot of middle management. Click here to see posts on previous chapters. Next up: Abandon the ‘Follow Shirley’ Method. Connect with Kim Turnage and Larry Sternberg on LinkedIn to see the latest blog updates.

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