Focus on Relationships
One of the best predictors of success in any venture is the quality of the relationships amongst those involved. The better the relationships, the higher the probability of success.
Our troubles begin when those relationships aren't working. When you don't know what I'm thinking or, worse, why I'm thinking the way I'm thinking.
This is true for the small team working on a quality improvement initiative as much as it is for the CEO trying to steer his or her company towards a new path. It's true for the grassroots movement within your local community as much as it is for the candidate for political office looking to launch a movement.
In those situations, there is nothing more urgent than making sure our relationships are in strong working order. Not that we all simply get along. But that we have respect, understanding, alignment and coordinated movement.
This begins with open communication. I have to be able to hear you and what you want out of this.
It includes understanding. Making sure that I understand what I've heard and can not just sympathize, but empathize with your concerns and perspectives.
It demands clarity in the actions needed - in the sense that those actions must clearly illustrate the translation of those concerns into actions. (Not only that you heard me but that what we will be doing captures and remediates those concerns in a tangible way.)
It requires constant feedback and communication. That our actions are working and that we are making progress in all of our interests.
It isn't simple. It isn't easy. It isn't a straight line path.
It is messy. It is challenging. It does require constant vigilance.
But there isn't any alternative.
Poor relationships have led to the destruction of some of our greatest companies, teams and artists. It led us to lose leaders who would have otherwise inspired us to move forward.
So we do the work needed. We build those relationships, no matter how daunting. No matter how insurmountable things may seem at the outset. We tear down those walls that keep us apart.
One brick at a time.