Five Tips on Improving Your Business Relationships
I am not a political junkie. I can’t remember which party is red and which is blue. But I agree with most Americans that we are in a state of government dysfunction. Yes, I too have said “can’t we all just get along”? Not because I want everyone to be nice, but because we need meaningful work to get done. And I believe when you boil it down – there is something in this question that is essential to real, lasting results achieved from a well-led team.
Three news clips caught my attention highlighting the lack of relationship-building in politics today:
- MN Rep Rick Nolan was re-elected after a 32 year “hiatus” from politics. Nolan described changes since last in office: “Members are expected to spend 30 hours week raising money, and we never did any of that. That was time we spent in committees working with one another, getting to know one another, reaching agreements, collaborating, compromising.”
- Obama recently vacationed on the links with Tiger Woods. What is really interesting about this is that by 11/8/12 the President played 104 rounds of golf and only 2 rounds were with members of Congress. Now I would never deny a President the opportunity to relax and replenish, but I would count this as 102 missed opportunities to get to know politic allies and foes. Stronger relationship on both sides would help create a better environment of promise and compromise.
- The movie Lincoln captured the characteristics of great leadership. In Goodwin’s interview with HBR she stated that one of the most important successes of Lincoln’s leadership was creating a functioning “team of rivals”. This isn’t just “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. It is about picking the best and the brightest and giving their voice air with patience and appreciation.
Leaders understand that real change comes from discourse and great discourse comes from an environment of trust, courtesy, respect and appreciation. Sound bites, Facebook connections, tweets can enhance relationships but don’t create the foundation. Stephen Covey identifies these four things as the currency used to make deposits in an Emotional Bank Account. When you make deposits in to this account, you can withdraw the funds when you really need them (i.e. Lincoln and votes for the Emancipation Proclamation).
Recently the WSJ published an article on how to make friends. I don’t know whether that is helpful or sad. Nonetheless, here are five important aspects to consider when building effective business relationships.
1-Ask and listen. Does your staff know that you love to sail but you have no idea what they love to do?
2-Share, don’t overshare. This is true particularly at work. Don’t cross the Too Much Information line.
3-Be patient. Relationships are built over time with opportunities to show your trustworthiness and appreciation for different perspectives.
4-Be strategic. Consider the war vs. the battle. Making deposits in the emotional bank account may be more important than being right.
5-Don’t be afraid of the social side of work. Sensitivity to inclusiveness, political correctness, etc. has created a barrier to getting to know one other. Work to find the balance.
So, good luck to Rep Nolan in this changed environment. I’d love to see him bring some “old school” back in to the game. BTW he is a democrat… I think that is red?
Links to Sources and other Interesting Reads: