Relationship is one of the most important factors in being a successful executive.

In researching what executives say are their biggest challenges, I noticed that each list was dominated by some aspect of how people work together, communicate with each other, and coordinate their activity at work. Some lists contained four challenges, some five, some six, some seven, some ten, and some twelve. Even though they did not agree on the number of challenges, all of them pointed to issues non-technical and non-specific to a company’s industry or business.

What is the effective response to these challenges?

I noticed that even though the issues that had to be resolved for success were about people and how they relate to each other and work together, the solutions all seemed to be about what to do. The solutions were not focused on relationship and how to impact barriers to effective collaboration and coordination.

The common response is figuring out what to do. When people get into action, they sometimes do make improvements. Often, however, there may be a lot of well-meaning actions taken by committed individuals and teams that do not deliver the desired outcomes. People are busy and working hard, but they are not making the difference that they want to make.

What can executives change for improved success rates?

Relationship is the foundation of all accomplishment. If you look critically at any arena of human performance, the most outstanding results will have individuals working together toward one outcome or goal AND being deeply related – at least regarding that goal or commitment. The individuals will have a genuine concern for each other’s success. You can find examples of this in sports, the theater, an orchestra, etc.

Executives who understand the importance of relationship invest in nurturing it in their culture. The return on that investment shows up clearly in the business results, including results such as retention and engagement scores.

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