Leaders are expecting more from their employees, clients and partnerships – without any reciprocity. But leadership requires relationships that add mutual value. A relationship without reciprocity is no relationship at all.
So why do such one-sided relationships appear to be the sign of the times? Repeatedly, I see companies and their leaders in search of the intellectual capital and know-how they need to compete but lack. Yet they implement unethical practices that further widen opportunity gaps, disrupt growth and perpetuate the lack of trust that continues to reverberate in business.
Here are three signs that your relationship lacks reciprocity and is headed in the wrong direction:
1. You always have an excuse.
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You know that your business relationship lacks reciprocity when you feel forced to do all the work because there is always an excuse on the other end. When excuses begin to constantly prevail, this is a sign that your business relationship is becoming one-sided and the other side is feeling threatened and uncomfortable, territorial and distant.
Rather than inflict more frustration and damage, put the relationship to the test. Demand more from your business relationship and if performance does not improve and the attitude still lingers – do yourself a favor and call it quits. If you are in a relationship that doesn’t value you enough, get out before it’s too late.
2. No one takes ownership.
It’s difficult to sustain a business relationship when you are the only one that is able to take ownership and remain relevant because your team and brand overshadows the strength and capabilities of the other.
When both sides don’t take ownership for the mutual benefit of the relationship, it’s time to reevaluate it. How many times have you been in a business relationship where everyone is equally excited and then it begins to wane? More often than not, these are the relationships where one of the parties is beginning to lose marketplace relevancy and their impact is fading. The template they’ve been using for years to drive growth is no longer producing results. When they can no longer keep up with marketplace needs, reciprocity becomes difficult and eventually the relationship ends.
3. No one seizes the opportunity.
A lot of business relationships are created from an impressionable encounter and/or introduction. But over time you find that reciprocity becomes difficult because the people that are responsible to manage the relationship have limited capabilities. For example, the leaders at the top of the organization may seem the most impressive. They say the right things and make lots of promises about what their contributions to the relationship can bring. But the reality is that those who are responsible to do the heavy lifting – to give the relationship life – may have average competency levels at best.
When your capabilities greatly exceed those of the company you have forged a business relationship with, you are headed down a slippery slope where opportunities can’t be seized together. Keep your business relationships on their toes, challenge their commitment and notice if they are expecting you to make all of the sizeable investments in time, money and resources. Also, be mindful of whose subject matter expertise is making the real difference towards driving outcomes. If you are the only one sharing, it’s time to end the relationship before circumstances force your hand.
Remember: Real business relationships produce positive results for both parties for one core reason: reciprocity. Without reciprocity, there is no relationship. When you stop having each other’s backs and lack the desire to give more than receive, the relationship can quickly go awry. Most notably, you have to care a lot and trust the people you work with in the relationship to cultivate an environment of innovation and initiative.
To learn more about building mutually beneficial relationships, join me on October 27 at 12 p.m. PST/3 p.m.EDT for a FREE 30-minute webinar on 5 Ways to Build Mutually Beneficial Business Relationships Using the Innovation Mentality.