I am embarrassed to say that I was pretty self-centered in the early stages of my career. I was focused on climbing the success ladder, not really caring all that much about the people around me. Simply put, I used people for what they could do for me, either right then, or their perceived value to me in the future.
All that changed one year shortly after becoming a Christian when in my performance review, my boss read quotes from my peers. Most said they respected the results I achieved, but did not trust me or want to work with me. OUCH! I resolved to turn that situation around by the next year—I did not want to listen to comments like that from my co-workers again! I resolved to build healthy alliances wherever I could from there on out. It took a year of concerted effort but the next year was a complete turn-around in my peer reviews. Along the way I discovered the power of building healthy alliances to build your business!
It turns out that a great example of how to build healthy alliances is found in the story of David’s journey as he evaded Saul and his army, and eventually in his victory over the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30).
- Treat those who help you along the way with respect. David and his men, along with their families, traveled through the land protecting the locals from invading armies and bandits. For this protection they asked only for food and water to sustain them. While he was doing them a favor, he did not hold it over their heads, extorting what he thought was his due.
- Recognize people have different strength and weaknesses. As David and his 600 men grew close to the Amalekites, 200 were too exhausted to continue forward into the battle, so David positioned them in the rear to protect him. He did not force them to go beyond what they could do, but proceeded with the 400 men who were strong enough.
- Be willing to make friends of a weakened adversary. David’s men found a sickly Egyptian slave who had been abandoned by his Amalekite master. They brought him to David and David gave him food and water, and allowed him to rest. He befriended the slave, made an alliance with him, and the slave led David right to the encampment of the enemy Amalekites.
- Beware those who try to divide the organization for their selfish gain. A number of the men who went into battle selfishly suggested that only those who went into battle should share in the plunder, but David said no, they would all share equally. His loyalty built trust and strengthened his alliance with the entire body of followers.
- Value every role equally without showing favoritism. David divided the spoils equally between those who went into battle, and those who supported them by staying behind. His fairness to everyone—those in engaged in battle, and those whose role was to support the troops strengthened his alliances.
- Acknowledge those who supported you along the way. David remembered and rewarded those who had helped him over the years by returning the possessions stolen by the Amalekites. These people were leaders who had become David’s friend while he and his men were wandering in the wilderness.
People watch every move you make as a leader. If you treat an outsider poorly they will see it. If you treat one group better than another they will see it. If you climb the ladder and forget the people who helped you they will see it. People want to know that you are the kind of person they can trust. Loyalty arises when relationships are built on trust. And when you have trust and loyalty the result is healthy alliances!
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NRSV)
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As always questions and comments are welcome. What have you done to build healthy alliances in your organization? How has it impacted your business?
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Category: Relationships | Healthy Alliances