About 10 years ago I worked for a guy that scared me. He was the guy that hired me. He was a straight shooter which I appreciated but there was something about him that lead me to making sure that I did my job and did nothing to piss him off. I was completely afraid of approaching him. Ironically, 10 years later, he’s one of my closest friends and I completely lean on him for advice.
I can look back on all of my business relationships, whether they were employee/employer, vendor/client, or co-worker related in which I can point to specific moments in the evolution or dissolution of the relationships. Lesson #1? I can really only now point to those teachable moments NOW, in hindsight. Lesson #2? Hindsight tells me that if I would have built better relationships both internally and externally, the outcomes might have been better if not different.
In every case, in every business relationship, (yes even the personal one’s too) , there are certain moments that lend itself to that relationship going either north or south. It could be an external catalyst. It could be a person or a common thread. A common thread that changes the whole dynamic. It could be a piece of dialogue that is misconstrued, or something that was not done and was expected. The point being, in most cases, you have a chance to change it-IF you can recognize that you can change it or need to change it and you engage resources to support or change it. The underlying point I’m trying to make here is you need allies. You need a solid support network wherever you are. You can’t go it alone. You can’t.
Most of us don’t have the skill, the prescience or the hindsight to do it in the moment by ourselves.
Recently I was reading in the Harvard Business Review about the relationships you need to get right and the last paragraph in the article really struck a chord with me and it is this:
We repeatedly heard CEOs and top managers say that they wouldn’t be where they are without strong sponsors and loyal protégés. One Fortune 500 CEO gave a powerful illustration. When interviewing candidates for senior positions, he always asks them, “How many people do you have in your pocket? If I asked you to pull off something impossible that involved liaising across seven geographies and five functions, who owes you one and could help you do it?” He told us, “I’m not interested in anyone who doesn’t have deep pockets.”
Hindsight only helps you with the next gig, the next task, or the next relationship. My question is, how many of us have the luxury of being able to move the needle of our existing business relationships by ourselves? How many of us could have moved the needle with allies? Something to think about.