January 7, 2013
Everyone is back.
Though the day of the week varies every year, the week surrounding the day is pretty quiet, ‘most everywhere. Christmas Week; New Years Week; though they constitute the end of Q4 and the calendar year, the majority of workplace people are on holiday, even if their bodies are at the desk. Not today: the first Monday after New Years week is… the start of a new year. Welcome back…
Allow me to propose an emphasis that turns a deaf ear to the next big battle in Washington (can someone say “Debt Ceiling” believing that responsible, thoughtful conversations are underway?), the economic realities of an anemic business environment, the heated cultural conversations over gun control, violent video games and Hollywood’s addiction to gratuitous violence, and all of the subjects that tonight’s talking heads will make out to be the Thing about which you ought to obsess. My question to you, today: How are you doing in growing your Relational Capital?
We all know something about capital. “Running out of money” is the most likely terminal disease for start-up businesses. Ideas with great potential often die before they achieve sustainability; the epitaph Undercapitalized would be on their tombstone, if they weren’t buried in a pauper’s grave with no memorial marker.
Relational Capital is like financial capital in some vital measures. Companies cannot interact without the financial variety, but people cannot interact without the relational version. The principle ingredient found in RC is a crucial element: it is trust. Relational Capital is the cumulative trust, experience, and knowledge that forms the core of the relationship within business teams, and between businesses and their customers. Relational capital ensures that a team will perform at their highest levels of potential, and it keeps customers from abandoning a commercial relationship.
The pathologies regarding trust develop over one’s history. For some, they are wounded and dysfunctional: they’ve been burned – badly – in the past, and they don’t trust anyone. For others, they would be diagnosed as simplistic and vulnerable: they trust everyone, whether they have been proven trustworthy or not. A few are healthy and productive: they are prepared to trust, but they’ll also verify, so that accountability is built into the relationship.
Capital markets are crucial to international commerce; the healthy flow of financial resources must be enabled by the character of the participants in the exercise. In the same manner, Relational Capital must be in play for life to be enriching for everyone involved.
Your actions at the office – and, away from work – this week will reflect the status of your RC. The measure is dynamic; in the same way that companies rise and fall as measured on trading floors, your credibility in relationships will be moving up and down as you seek and offer trust among the people who are part of your social interactivity.
Your ability to earn trust through fulfilling expectations, and to wisely extend trust based on your assessment of the trustworthiness of your collaborative partners will be a powerful indicator of your readiness to advance in all of your endeavors – personal and professional – in 2013.
As you plot your plans for the week before you, it’s worth asking the introspective questions: 1) What are the top three things you could do this week to prove your reliability to someone who is very important to you? 2) Where are you vulnerable today because of extending trust to someone who has not proven themselves to be trustworthy? And, 3) What relationships are at risk today because your experiences in the past have made you unwilling to trust someone who has not – and, will probably not – let you down?
People who are rich in Relational Capital have better lives than those who run lean in that critical asset. Do you have plans to grow your RC account in this new year?