I learned something yesterday that I found to be quite astonishing. Some scientists have worked out that around 30,000 years ago the reason why Homo sapiens survived while Neanderthals became extinct boils down to Relationship. Homo sapiens got together in groups of 100-150, sharing ideas and technology that enabled them to hunt better and prosper through specialisation; Neanderthals preferred to remain in small units about a tenth of the size. It just shows that we can accomplish so much more if we work together.
If you pause and think for a moment, this is instinctive (and so it should be, given that Homo sapiens are our ancestors). Our individual accomplishments are often the greatest when we have good relationship – with our work colleagues, our family, or our friends. Certainly some of my most memorable times have been when I’ve shared an experience with others. From a business perspective, the reason why people come together in organisations in the first place is because they can accomplish more together than they can individually.
In business – or any organisation – relationship is the basis of great accomplishment. The more we can develop our relationships, the more we can accomplish.
Simon Sinek, the author of ‘Start with Why’, tells a story about Trust, an important facet of relationship, that profoundly illustrates this point: who are we more likely to entrust to babysit our children for an evening – a 16-year old girl with no babysitting experience, who lives across the street and we’ve known for years; or a 32-year old woman who has just moved to our neighbourhood and proclaims to have vast experience of babysitting? The 16-year old girl wins every time. Relationship matters.
In business – or any organisation – relationship is the basis of great accomplishment. The more we can develop our relationships, the more we can accomplish. Indeed, one only needs to increase relationship a little to have a disproportionate increase in what can be accomplished. Relationships can be broadened and they can be deepened. The CEO of a large company can broaden his relationships by getting to know more people on the shop-floor, which will improve the understanding others have of him, make him appear less remote and enhance every communication he subsequently makes. He can also deepen his relationship with his Board through getting to know their families, meeting them socially, and spending time with them individually.
The importance of relationship doesn’t stop with people. Relationship with our surroundings also plays a large role in performance and what we can achieve. I’m learning to ride a motorbike at the moment and when I first climbed on it yesterday, it felt a little awkward; I wasn’t connected. But as the lesson went on, my relationship with the bike improved and I performed better. It was the same when I used to fly large aircraft for a living – everyone recognised the benefit, even as an experienced pilot, of getting comfortable again with the surroundings of the flight deck for ten minutes before it was time to start. This principle can be turned on its head too: next time you have a Leadership Team meeting, try mixing up the seating plan a little and see what a difference it makes to the dynamics. Indeed, this can be a useful way of generating greater energy and results.
Accomplishments deliver results with meaning and have the potential to create legacy – to have a lasting effect in the world. Accomplishments affect others in a positive way. Accomplishment and Relationship go hand in hand. Little did the first Homo sapiens know that when they reached out to join tribes it would have such a legacy. Invest the time to deepen and broaden your relationships and see your accomplishments flourish.
[The notion of Relationship being the foundation of all we accomplish, together with a triangular model expressing the idea, was first expressed by JMJ Associates.]