Our U.S. Chief Operation Officer, Steve Smith, is a member of the the Forbes Business Council where this article was originally published.
“You have to be willing to step on people if you want to get to the top.”
Certainly, at some point in your career, you’ve heard some variation on the above idiom. Even if you haven’t, there’ve probably been a few moments in your working past where you felt the pressure to chase a profit, no matter the cost, or subvert a competing firm to ensure yours comes out the winner. The decision to “crush or be crushed” seems only natural when you and your colleagues ponder the best way to help your company succeed.
Thankfully, we can shed our worst, most selfish impulses and create a more welcoming space for people to compete, collaborate, then commiserate.
Considering the recent pandemic and its harsh realities we’ve all had to face, no time is better than the present to strengthen relationships, seek out partnerships and build alliances that benefit all parties. Even if the reciprocation isn’t always equal, I believe good deeds have a way of balancing themselves out.
Let’s explore three scenarios in which flipping the script on good business means looking out not just for yourself, but also for everyone who has a stake in ensuring a positive outcome.
A Win-Win For Your Company’s Culture
For any positive change to occur, the transition from a win-at-all-costs mindset must first start from within — within yourself, then within your team, your department and the larger, more isolated elements of your organisation. The key here is to pull diverse team members and departments together so they move in the same direction to reach a common goal or solve a particular problem.
One of the most effective approaches is allowing group members to maintain their autonomy while connecting the dots on how they impact other teams around them. For example, your sales team can’t effectively close potential deals if the marketing and advertising team aren’t driving the most qualified prospects their way. In a similar fashion, your marketing team can’t create those dynamic campaigns for the sales team to close unless they’re given the necessary budget. You can make similar connections across the business.
Yes, it’s a bit simplified, but the point is to have everyone operating from the same playbook, even if their specific set of plays differs from others. Break down the silos departments and their employees retreat to when confronted with a problem they interpret as something only they can fix. Letting everyone see and hear the goals and problems one another faces fosters a more collaborative team atmosphere. And, as the saying goes, when one team succeeds, everyone succeeds.
A Win-Win For Your Clients
Generating win-win scenarios with your customers and clients takes many forms. The most organic — and therefore the most genuine and lasting — is to care less about the sale and more about the relationship.
For example, throughout the pandemic, many businesses and individuals suffered, either personally from the virus itself, professionally from the resulting drop in business or, in many cases, both. Of course, a pandemic is only one type of existential crisis a business might face.
Reducing fees or relaxing payment terms can help your clients weather an economic storm and go a long way toward establishing concrete bonds that will outlast any pandemic. Customers will remember how you looked out for their best interests when they were most in need, rather than just your own bottom line. And if you have clients that performed well in the downturn, shifting your priorities and resources to further their success can carry a similar impact on their loyalty. They’ll likely note you went the extra mile in tough times to help nurture their ongoing success rather than focusing only on your own best interests.
A Win-Win For Your Competitors
Our final scenario posits what, for some, might be the unthinkable: partnering with a competitor so you, your customers and any other stakeholder will benefit. However, it’s not as uncommon as you think, and it has the potential to unlock new partnerships and previously untapped areas of growth.
Consider the uber-competitive world of multi-family property management. Many firms specialise in overseeing a specific housing type, such as student, military or retirement. Specialising like this can be lucrative, but for a management company without this kind of specialisation, that payoff can prove elusive. By combining resources with a competitor, however, you can acquire the expertise to better manage your investments and create scenarios where your customers — in this case, residents — receive a better experience.
Everyone wins. Both you and your “competitor” can find a foothold into previously untapped markets with the opportunity to expand even further. You both gain a business partner, rather than a rival. Your customers get a broader set of services or products, and, potentially, it is a colossal windfall, all because you took a more optimistic view of what you and your competitor might achieve together.
We’ve all had plenty of practice trying to ensure our companies come out on top. But just imagine the future success we could realise if we focused on building collaborative relationships and partnerships with others.
The article originally appeared here.
-Written by, Steve Smith