Whilst the lockdowns of sixteen months ago affected everyone’s lives differently, it gave us time to gain perspective and adjust our priorities (and no – this is not another Covid article). For many, being required to physically distance ourselves from our families, friends, and generally others has reminded us how important human contact and connection is. Other than the tangible financial effects on the lives of many people – it’s likely many people/businesses/families reflected on where they were, and where they wanted to be.
GS went through this process too. The leadership team read Simon Sinek’s ‘Infinite Game’ (highly recommended) and without going into too much detail on the philosophy, we were encouraged to think about how we wanted to contribute to our vision of the future, beyond our lifetimes. What world do we want to live in and to leave to our successors? This is not to say that having a profitable business is not important, of course it is, because without a profitable business, how do we stay in the game to continue to contribute? However, how we operate this business must be aligned with what we want to build. So we came up with the following:
A world where collaboration trumps competition
Often there is an attitude that we need to face each day as a battle – a ‘me/us against the world’ attitude. In almost any context, consider the times when you approached a challenge with the assistance of those around you. Utilising others’ strengths and knowledge where you may have been lacking, would have left a positive, lasting effect.
Yes, we all need to play different parts in our lives, and competition is an essential part of life, however, there are many situations where competitive attitudes overtake opportunities where collaboration may be beneficial. Many situations may benefit from a collaborative rather than an adversarial approach. This may mean putting aside ego.
A relevant example in the context of GS would be when we are undertaking a due diligence transaction – it is in the relevant businesses’ best interests that the advisors for each company collaborate to keep both businesses and people involved front of mind, rather than getting caught up with professional ego or trying to get ‘better’ than a fair deal. This promotes mutual respect and positive relationships, which have a long payback period. It really is a small world, and people remember their experiences with people regardless of what environment you interacted through.
Where people participate honestly and openly by not being fake
This speaks for itself. It’s pretty damn hard putting on a façade, and not relating to people authentically.
Honest interactions where we admit what we don’t know, learn from those who do and ask questions about what people do and why, can only enrich our lives and all future interactions. How many times have you been in a room where a speaker may ask whether everyone understands a concept? And there is that one brave person who says they don’t? In reality, the majority of an audience may not understand, and that majority would have missed a valuable learning opportunity by not willing to admit they did not ‘know’ something.
In many cases, asking what we think is a ‘stupid question’ is often the smartest thing we can do.
Where relationships surpass digits (money) and a world where the good of something greater than self, trumps self-interest
Have you had the experience where you go to purchase a product or a service, and the provider has taken the time to ask you what the problem you are trying to solve is, or why you need something? Then they may go on to tell you that they think you need something different and direct you to another provider, or advise you that you don’t need it at all. This means they don’t get a ‘sale’, but you were better informed or in a better position for what you were trying to do.
This has exponential effects in terms of the success of your activity (whatever it was); the appropriate provider of a product or service has had the opportunity to do what they do best, and positive relationships/reputations were created.
A contextual example of this at Gilligan Sheppard is that for many of the capital raising opportunities we see, the best thing we can do is provide connection opportunities even where we do not raise money.
In New Zealand, we are mostly a community of small to medium businesses. Each of these businesses and the people behind them have different aspirations and ideas where connection and collaboration could create a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. As advisors, playing a part in creating these connections is key to the evolution of New Zealand business.
All of this is supported by an environment where trust trumps fear
What is the greatest way to create an environment of trust? I discovered this lesson through GS. The best way to create an environment of trust is just by ‘giving it’ and ‘being it’. You can try and build trust – but how do you know when it is built? Trust builds trust.
There will always be people who break trust, however being fearful of trusting people will also prevent building effective relationships.
We want a world where collaboration trumps competition, and where people participate honestly and openly by not being fake, where relationships surpass digits (money) and a world where the good of something greater than self exceeds self-interest, and all of this is supported by an environment where trust trumps fear.