Relationship Before Opportunity
Skillful leaders are rare because the principles of leadership are frequently counter-intuitive.
4 counter-intuitive leadership principles:
- Talk to them about them.
- Gain power by empowering.
- Join their team before they join your team.
- Talk less, listen more, and others will listen to you.
When I asked Jeremie Kubicek to explain the advice he most frequently shares his reply was another counter-intuitive principle, “Without question it’s pursue relationship before opportunity.”
I asked Jeremie what push-backs “relationship before opportunity” received. He said two things.
- People think they already understand relationships. However, giving yourself away for the benefit of others is hard for most. Jeremie’s comment reminded me that we don’t know more because we already know too much.
- Tasks and short-term pressure usually take precedent. Focusing on relationships is a long-term activity in a world that expects short-term results.
Being a “relationship first” leader:
I asked Jeremie how GiANT Impact implements “relationship before opportunity.”
- Talk it within the company, the sales team specifically. In addition, we tell everyone we are a relationship company.
- Celebrate relationships in sales team meetings by telling stories and explaining how relationships created opportunities. Opportunities come more readily to those who put others first.
- The leader lives it both inside and outside the company.
Why relationship first:
Jeremie says in Leadership is dead, “Relationship before opportunity is about giving before receiving and serving before asking.”
On the other hand, opportunity-first creates walls. It creates suspicion.
“If you wait until you need a relationship it’s too late to develop a relationship,” Steve Keating – Selling Skills Manager for Toro.
Once opportunity emerges, serve the relationship. Jeremie explains, “Relationships are a competitive advantage, but only if you are honest about your motives and pure in your intent.”
Read yesterday’s post – part of my conversation with Jeremie Kubicek
Why is relationship before opportunity important?
Value Add: Download chapter 8 of “Leadership is Dead, How Influence is Reviving It.” No strings attached.
Good stuff and very biblical! The 4 counter-intuitive leadership principles, specifically #4. The bible says in James 1:19 “Be quick to listen, slow to speak slow to anger.” The “Push Backs” section, JESUS said we are to consider others over ourselves. I could go on but what I will say, Dan sir, you put some great stuff on here man! Seriously! Hope you, your followers, and those you read have THE MOST amazing day today! Be Blessed!
So glad you stopped in today to leave an encouraging comment.
A good word is always appreciated.
I’m reminded of what Scott Peck wrote about love – he said it’s not a mushy emotion, it’s hard work! Same with relationships: they are not some touchy-feely bonding between two people, they are the hard work of understanding, connecting, staying in touch, and helping each other. I’m reminded of the principle of mutuality from AA: It’s not one person helping another stay sober, it’s two drunks who are mutually dependent upon each other, each needing the other to keep themselves sober.
First, what did I do to deserve seeing you two days in a row? 🙂
You nailed it man. I heard the drunk illustration in the context of homeless people. — one homeless guy telling the other homeless guy where to get bread.
If relationships were easy the world would be at peace and our jails would be empty.
Thanks for adding value to the conversation.
BTW, I love your book, All Hands on Deck. I frequently reread portions of it.
Hey Joe, Just received my copy of your dreams are too small in the mail today! Cheers!
I’m currently reading Bob Sutton’s Good Boss Bad Boss – one theme I’m picking up that seems strong in both books (Bob’s and Jeremie’s) is that bosses (and leaders) are best when they view their roles as serving, not being served.
One problem with many people’s view of leadership is that they view it almost like royalty (“I’m here to be served”) – this leads to poor treatment of those around and below them, which creates so many of the leadership problems we face.
Great leaders view themselves as servants, serving others first.
Your comment reminds me that all great leaders shift from “I” thinking to “you” thinking. It’s not easy. It’s counter-intuitive. It’s essential.
Thanks for your comment.
Thank you for the feedback.
Your response reminded me of a conversation my wife and I had recently:
Some people think from the inside out, bluntly imposing their perspectives and opinions on the world around them.
Other people – those that we’ve both observed to be more influential and effective – think from the outside in. These people “seek first to understand,” and their actions/words reflect an understanding of others.
So people learn they can trust you
Hi Matt…. man of few words! thanks
“If you wait until you need a relationship it’s too late to develop a relationship.”
It’s amazing how Steve Keating’s succinct quote drives home the importance of relationship before opportunity.
So true. Steve is a great guy.
Dan, I am loving your posts. But it is making me a Library Freak as I can’t seem to read fast enough! I am grateful that you are putting this information out there. I would love to hear more on “Join their team before they join your team. “
Jeremie’s four principles are spot on.
Talk less, listen more, and others will listen to you.
Not only will they listen to you, they will perform beyond your expectations.
Have a safe and relaxing weekend,
I think relationship before opportunity is important to know the person’s intention, expectation and engagement with the opportunity. This will help leaders to understand whether person prefers to make relationship with task or person. When person makes relationship with task then he prefers opportunity before relationship. So, we need relationship with people before opportunity.
I also believe opportunity based relationship is short lived and narrrow focussed whereas relationship based opportunity is long lived, broad focussed and sustainbale. Unfortunately comparison plays great role in deciding whether person focuses on opportunity or relationship. Comparision with self is great but comparision with others forces you to focus on opportunity than relationship.
Thanks for sharing this post! The four counter-intuitive leadership principles are indeed counter-intuitive to many leadership styles I have encountered in the workplace, and it’s nice to see them written in such a simple way. Not at all simple thoughts, but simply stated, and actionable!
Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to reading Jeremie’s book!
“… we don’t know more because we already know too much.” I love this. If I could just shut my mouth, move my ego out of the way and listen, I would learn so much more.
“Relationship before opportunity is about giving before receiving and serving before asking.” Isn’t this what Christ tried to teach and demonstrate by doing and living it? We have to be willing servants of other people in order to build relationships through trust.
I am struck by two things Jeremie said.
1) We don’t know more because we already know too much.
2) Opportunity first creates walls.
Now, can I put them together (coherently)?
A relationship requires opening up to learn more from each other. When we know too much, we aren’t open to a relationship. We already know. We don’t need anyone else. When we already know, we are preset on opportunity. It’s about me and what I can get. I am opportunistic. When it’s all about me, there’s a wall between us. When there’s a wall there can be no relationship.
Maybe starting with relationship opens opportunities we never would imagine. All we need to do is stay open with no walls. Thinking this is one thing. Being and doing it will be a good thing to practice. Thank you for clearing the path of weeds once again.
Opportunity before relationships is why I hated living in DC. It’s the dominant culture there, at least in the political/policy world. I’d never been able to articulate that before. 🙂
I am thinking about how this approach interacts with vision-based leadership that you wrote about recently, Dan. It seems to me that the “relationships” you are talking about here are not about remembering the other person’s birthday and that you’re both big Braves fans (not to discount that this can be important too). The organization builds and serves a shared vision, and that’s the focus of the team at every level. When we are all committed to the vision, and that’s the driving force behind leadership and strategy, leadership/management decisions are no longer a hierarchical “I want X, so you must do Y for me” and become “To achieve our vision, X needs to happen… and Y is your part in making it happen.”
Because presentation (choice/power of words and who/why/how/when/where they are shared) is so important, wonder if it is not ‘talk with’ instead of ‘talk to’… and ‘ask to join their team’ rather than ‘join their team’…
A powerful message worth reading more than once! Throughout my career I have learned to value people first. It isn’t surprising to learn that people work for people (not just companies).
Our Customers and Corporate staff were always impressed by the level of engagement of our employees. I made a point to visit the floor every day and whenever possible to offer assistance.
When we learn to love in the proper context of the word, the work place can be a much better place! To help with this context, I recommend reading “The Servant”. A very powerful book.
A very refreshing view on leadership! Thank you.
As a project manager, where influence is everything, I can assure you this is most certainly true. I’d add learning when to defend your team, against an outsider’s myopic goals, as one of the keys to building long term relationships.
My mantra is is listening is to understand rather then listen to disagree, change can only happen one people understand the direction they are headed towards.,