Elevating Your Most Critical Business Relationships
Where do transformative, exponential relationships come from? Some may believe that these relationships are an outcome of luck, charm, “chemistry,” circumstances, or some combination thereof. There’s certainly a fair amount of all those factors that can play a role in our most valuable relationships. Certain professionals, however, decide to tilt the odds in their favor by applying mindful intent, discernment and action to these opportunities as they arise. In other words, they accelerate the forces of good fortune to create a greater good.
In a recent post, I discussed the emphasis we all need to place on the most important business relationships in our relationship portfolio. In it, I outlined an intentional, systematic approach to managing your business relationship portfolio. The three-phase approach starts with identifying the most critical relationships, then establishing a system of metrics and tracking, then strategically accelerating those relationships. In this article, we’ll explore the “how” behind that third step, actively working to accelerate the most important business relationships in your portfolio.
The Foundations of Business Relationships
In Business Relationships that Last, author Ed Wallace describes the foundation of all great relationships: Worthy Intent. “The Principle of Worthy Intent is the inherent promise you make to keep the other person’s best interests – consistent with your own interests – at the core of your business relationship.” We all have experienced interactions in which it seems like the other party has zero interest in our perspective or interests – and it usually leads us to avoid such relationships (and fast!). Facing our own pressures, we can be tempted to focus on our own needs, but that will not lead to the transformative and exponential, long-lasting relationships.
If Worthy Intent is the foundation of transformative, exponential relationships, what is the structure? Wallace refers to Credibility, Integrity and Authenticity (CIA) as the three necessary pillars that support great, strong relationships.
Advance from an Acquaintance to a Trusted Advisor
According to Wallace, with the foundation of Worthy Intent, and the pillars of Credibility, Integrity and Authenticity, we can attain levels of communication and connection that allow us to discover and connect to the deep motivations of the other person: their Goals, Passions and Struggles (GPS). What are their abiding, deepest values, purposes and objectives in their professional (and perhaps personal) life?
If we are to place the other party’s interests first, we have to be in a trusted position to discover them. That requires dedication and patience – and a system. According to Ed Wallace, such a system inevitably involves both soft skills (art) as well as hard skills (science). In Wallace’s Relational Ladder, there are five steps that help you progress from Acquaintance, to Professional Peer, to Respected Advisor:
Participants map out the journey up the Relational Ladder in the Relationship Quotient video program.
- Establishing Common Ground: What are the connections between you and the other person that initiate rapport?
- Displaying Integrity and Trust: How do your daily actions confirm your intent and secure the relationship?
- Using Time Purposefully: How will your treatment and investment of time build the relationship?
- Offering Help: How will you share expertise and relational equity to advance the relationship? How will the other person do the same for you?
- Asking for Help: Can you ask the other person for help? Can they do the same with you?
Understand Where Your Business Relationships Stand
For many professionals, who haven’t really understood or systematically embraced Ed Wallace’s relationship system, key questions are, “Where am I?” and, “what does good look like?” Fortunately, Wallace has developed objective approaches to answering the question of where we are in a given relationship journey, or across our portfolio of strategic relationships.
SPARXiQ collaborated with Ed to bring actionable approaches to business relationship building to life. Relationship Quotient is an engaging, Hollywood-quality video training series which is accompanied by interactive activities to apply the concepts and approaches, Through the program, you’ll be able to understand your relational strengths and weaknesses, and build a plan to close the gaps.
What is it worth to your business to know the strength of relationships in addition to revenue and gross profit? What is it worth to invest in strengthening those relationships that defend revenue now, and accelerate revenue during the recovery?
In uncertain times such as these, many business professionals are wondering what the future holds for them and their companies. While there are obvious economic and financial factors outside our control, we can take steps to influence the relationships that hold the keys to our future long-term success.