Many business leaders are exhausted today. It feels like everyone is running on empty. You managed through the initial shock of the pandemic and made the necessary adjustments. Now it’s time to focus on your organization’s ability to weather future shocks, and relationship equity is a good place to start.
You were already struggling to deal with a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, chaotic, ambiguous) world in 2020’s business environment. An ever-increasing change of pace was normal before the pandemic. You’ve come to know that there’s "market speed," and there’s “Amazon speed.” The new normal for business leaders is “pandemic speed.”
The fatigue you feel from all-day Zoom meetings is real. It combines with the stress of doing business in a chaotic home environment while schools are closed. Countless other sources of stress also add to the mix.
It’s time to evaluate how you responded (or reacted) to pandemic changes, and how you go forward. What’s the impact on the condition of your business relationships? What’s the toll on your people?
What’s the impact on our business relationships?
Relationships matter in business, especially among high-performing teams. Have you been burning up all the equity you’ve built in your business relationships during the pandemic? Have you been doing the things you need to do to invest in building your business relationships? It’s all complicated further by the challenge of operating in a virtual world.
How do you assess the impact on your business relationships and build them up in this environment?
- Get out of crisis mode. If you’re starting to feel somewhat steady on your feet again, then now is the time to refresh your relationships with your colleagues and your customers through caring connection.
- Reach out to individual connections. Follow up after the group calls, and schedule more one-on-one time for deeper conversations with the people who matter most to you.
- Expand your network of internal and external connections by reaching out through email and calls.
- Share your experiences from the pandemic with insights about how the situation has made you better in your role.
- Listen empathetically to learn about their recent experiences and ask how they want to work together going forward.
Make sure your message is clear that you are focused on the future and open to working together in new ways to better serve the organization or mission. Find agreement on how you will sustain your working relationship and what you both need for it to thrive.
How is your relationship equity built, and how is it depleted?
Teams and organizations thrive where there is trust. Trust is built through relationships and reliable performance. It generates feelings of goodwill. Being open and clear about your agenda is one way to build trust. In a virtual meeting, that may look different than in the office environment. It’s important to be clear, concise and straightforward in your communication. You don’t have the benefit of body language and other cues that are available when you meet in person. Go the extra mile to check in, report progress, share information openly and be accountable for your responsibilities.
Some of my clients are reporting an elevated feeling of trust because they’re meeting virtually each day as a leadership team. This keeps the conversation focused on the most important matters and keeps team members accountable because they will be reporting on progress tomorrow. This cadence gets teams in sync and may become the new normal for high-performing teams.
Relationship equity is depleted when you’re disconnected, and the present environment is causing strain as well as diverting our attention and energy. You need to redouble your efforts to connect with key clients, co-workers and other constituents now more than ever.
How do you build relationships in the new environment? How do you recruit? How do you build and sustain a healthy corporate culture? What if your team has gone virtual and isn’t coming back to the office anytime soon, or ever? What if you don’t have meetings and conventions this year? What will help build and sustain your relationship equity? What’s the value of that relationship equity to your business?
These are questions I’m exploring in executive coaching conversations with business leaders. My clients are concerned about how much relationship equity might have been lost earlier this year. Many are actively investing time, energy and resources to rebuild connection and trust to enhance equity in their relationships. This contributes to better performance, builds equity in their brand and produces better bottom-line results. It’s worth checking on how much relationship equity is left in your tank. Now is the time to prepare your organization for the next storm on the horizon.
Bill Koch is a Forbes Councils Member, ECC Executive Partner, and renowned Executive Coach guiding high-performers to become highly effective organizational leaders. Based in Dallas, Texas, Bill has over 25 years in management and leadership, serving as CEO for a Fortune 500 subsidiary and President, CEO, and Chairman of several global aviation businesses, both public and private. Bill is also past Chairman of the National Air Transportation Association, where he served as the voice of business aviation, representing the interests of the aviation community before Congress, and federal, state, and local government agencies.
Bill holds a BA in Political Science from Southern Methodist University. He is an ICF-certified coach and a Certified Master Professional Director by the American College of Corporate Directors. Bill also currently advises for a private equity portfolio, mentors executive leaders, primarily in the Fortune 500, and serves on the Forbes Coaches Council.
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