“When we have faith in who we are, we can share that confidence with others, giving them faith in who they are.”
Have you recently received an email or text stream from someone not 30 feet away from you in the same office? This used to drive me crazy, but it underscores a change in management structures that has been as far reaching as the change in the technology we use to do business. Just a few decades ago, traditional hierarchies of vertical command-and-control were still in place. Then came the wave of technological change in the 1990s, which continues its unrelenting pace up to the present, and things began to shift.
Instead of businesses being structured like an orchestra or a marching band with a highly visible and often elevated conductor, the modern business seems to resemble a jazz ensemble. In this model, everyone understands the basic melody and rhythm (vision/purpose), but there is an almost spontaneous and intuitive mechanism of participation and creativity. Does it still require leadership? Oh yes, just a different style and approach.
In this new normal there is another shift or perhaps just a growing recognition. Namely, the currency of the future is a relationship that provides tangible value. When the return on the relational investment diminishes, people naturally withdraw; when the relationship brings motivation, insight and innovation, we lean in. According to Ted Rubin, the return on relationship, or ROR, is the value accrued by a person or brand due to an affirming relationship.
This timeless, yet evolving, reality of creating value is rooted in individuals and companies recognizing what their differentiating gift is. The organization Strategic Coach defines it as a “unique ability.” It is what we bring to the table few others can. Tom Brady may be an exceptional tennis player or Nick Saban a scratch golfer, but that is not their differentiating gift, nor why they are paid millions of dollars.
Knowing what you or your company does well helps you identify and reinforce what other individuals and companies do well. For lack of a better term, when we have faith in who we are, we can share that confidence with others, giving them faith in who they are. Contrary to what many think, pointing out another’s weakness and our perceived strength does not cause your value to spike. What increases your value is identifying the synergy between what you do well and they do exceptionally. What can be more valuable than giving someone confidence about his or her ability and future?
Next, the great advancement of this age may also be one of our chief liabilities: vast amounts of information. I know I had a much easier time selecting a program to watch on TV when I had six instead of 600 options. Helping people wade through the tsunami of data to find the direction they should take is what wisdom is all about. In fact, it is what leadership is all about. When it is authentic and balances heart and head, it is invaluable.
Finally, when you bring your distinct talents and skills to clients and friends, it can reframe or uncover creative solutions to their biggest challenges. What is more valuable than one very creative idea or solution?