Thursday, July 21, 2011

It May Not Matter To You, But ….

I was recently approached by an organization looking for an injection of funding to cover capital expenses.  This is a great organization with a great team and a powerful vision - an organization that has the potential to impact future generations in a positive way.

It sounds like something anyone would want to contribute to, doesn’t it?

There was only one issue that prevented me from being “all in”.

One of the key players responsible for capital attraction has a bit of a touchy history.  He was in the media a couple of years ago for doing less than ethical (in my opinion) things to a not-for-profit, leaving them financially high-and-dry while he escaped unscathed.

He has a business reputation for being somewhat predatorial in nature, creating deals that benefit himself while leaving others to blow in the breeze.  It doesn’t appear that way when the deals are crafted but many of them finish this way.

He also has a reputation for spinning opportunities that appear to be amazing but which all inevitably fail, wiping out everyone who participated in the opportunity while he moves on to the next one.

Meanwhile, he is on a speaking tour about how to create success built upon collaboration.  Yeah …. my thoughts exactly.

And so when this organization came to me with this guy at the helm of capital attraction, I was touched by their potential but I struggled to get past the fact that this guy, a guy not known for creating “win-wins” was a key advisor and leader.

When I pointed all of this out, this great organization made a capital blunder.

I was told that my concerns don’t matter – that even though this person has a touchy history (by their own acknowledgement), I should look past all of this and invest in them anyway because of the potential contained within.

In telling me this, they violated what I believe to be a key rule when approaching others.

I believe that when one approaches someone else with collaboration in mind, one should strive to open the dialog with an offer and with the offer in place, one has an opportunity to make an ask.

In making the offer and the ask, we do our best to find an alignment of ethics, morals, sense of purpose, style of execution, measurable outcomes, complementary skills and resources and any other needs that each participant in the dialog has or may be sensitive to.  The needs of the other side must be understood, appreciated and respected.

As soon as one side tells the other that their concerns are irrelevant or should be ignored, then one should expect the door to be slammed in their face.

Because when one doesn’t honor the needs and concerns of the other side, then one is saying that the other person doesn’t matter.

The truth is that we all matter.

When someone says or implies “forget about us, it’s all about me”, then the opportunity for collaboration is dead and we should move on quickly.  There are many other worthy collaborations out there waiting to be created.

Some will.

Some won’t.

So what.

Someone’s waiting.

When we honor and respect others, we receive it in return.

And when this happens, there is no limit to what WE can create.

In service and servanthood,


PS  After I posted this, Stephen Covey’s fifth habit of highly successful people came to mind: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Perhaps if people used this principle more often, the chances of creating collaborative success would increase sharply. :-)

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