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17 Dec 2012

Relationships: The Ultimate Power

Many say relationships in business are important, but the real question is, “How important are they?” In reality, they are the ultimate power; yet, business tends to focus on the numbers, technology and money. Even Adam Smith, the Father of Capitalism, revolutionized economic thought by focusing on labor, not capital (gold at the time), as the source of national wealth. Labor is about people. Organizing people is about relationships.

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart interviewed Medal of Honor recipient, Dakota Meyer for his actions during the Battle of Ganjgal in Afghanistan. He explained why he and Juan Rodriguez-Chavez disobeyed orders to attempt the rescue of fellow soldiers.

We requested to go in four times. We were told, “No.” each time. And then finally we just did it because it’s simple. You know we’re taught obedience to orders but I can tell you we’re taught more importantly is the brotherhood and it’s about doing what’s right [Time Mark: 2:00-3:00].

If relational power can trump the fear of disobedience and death, imagine what it could do to transform our enterprises. When all else breaks down in the “fog of war,” relationships hold units together, not politics, geography, religion or status.

This makes relationships more powerful than vision, than strategy, than process. They form the basis of any successful change. Yet, we often continue to push a good idea “on its own merits” even when the relational foundation is toxic. Then, we wonder why we receive resistance.

Often it’s because we view simple relationship building techniques and morale builders as just too much fluff. This is because some personalities just can’t cope with these. Historically, we’ve tolerated these types in management and leadership positions. However, as change accelerates in our world, it increasingly demands talent that can tap into this ultimate power.


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