From Breakdown to Breakthrough
Business leaders often focus on profits and metrics, living in spreadsheets and analytics. But what drives these results is people and relationships. So often it’s the resilient relationships, those that are forged in uncertain and difficult times that make the difference.
Author Michael Papanek takes three decades of experience with clients ranging from Apple to Google and shares it in his new book, From Breakdown to Breakthrough: Forging Resilient Relationships in the Heat of Change. His framework helps leaders develop the confidence to take these relationships to the next level. I recently asked him about his work.
“Resilience is a social phenomenon based on relationships, not an individual leadership attribute.” -Michael Papanek
Build Strong Relationships
What are the elements of a strong relationship?
A strong business relationship will have a number of attributes that set that relationship apart from others. First, it must provide value to both parties, and it is “generative,” meaning the value together is more than any one person could create on their own: so that 1 + 1 = 3. Strong relationships also create multiple tracks of value that would be hard to replace if the relationship ended.
One example of this is from the entertainment world, where the band the Grateful Dead was famous for their long relationship with their very loyal fans (which continues today, long after the passing of their leader Jerry Garcia). In addition to music, the band created value in other key ways for the fans, such as supporting a community of fans (the “Dead Heads”) as well as creating an ‘outside the concert’ experience, and even income for some fans (by selling items at the shows).
Finally, a strong relationship contributes to key strategies or needs of each party. Relationships that do not create value this way may be categorized as superficial and easily ended. If you are ever not sure if the business relationship is really strong, that is the time to discuss it. Do not wait until you are surprised by a change.
“Strong relationships create multiple tracks of value that would be hard to replace if the relationship ended.” -Michael Papanek
How often do our relationships hit that sweet spot between strong, flexible and fair?