Absurd!: Relationship Over Skill

by Ron Potter

photo-1448749927985-5565d99c10aeI’m continuing my series on an in-depth look at a wonderful little book that’s twenty years old this year.  The title is Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson.  You may want to consider dropping back and reading the previous blogs about ABSURD!  I think it would put each one in great context.

Chapter 3 is titled “The More Important a Relationship, the Less Skill Matters”.

I often start many of my team consulting assignments with a session called “Human Beings vs Human Doings.”  The point is we do most of our relating to each other at work based on what we do or in some cases by what we are not doing.  In either case we tend to relate to each other as Human Doings.

But we’re not human doings, we human beings!  Who you are not what you do is what really makes the difference.  I never know where these sessions will lead because it’s often one of the first things I do with a team and I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know them as individuals yet.  But in every case some of the most profound stories about human lives have come out.  There have been tears, roaring laughter, broken hearts and considerable pride as we listen to each other’s stories.

What strikes me is there are often certain story lines that seem to repeat themselves on certain teams.  I remember one team several years ago where three of the team members had grown up in families with severely handicapped siblings.  Even though they had worked with each other for a few years they didn’t know about the shared experiences.  Even when there is complete dedication and love, families with handicapped children share a great deal of stress and pressure together.  Knowing there were other members of the team that had shared similar experiences created a bond and a determination to help and support each other (all members, not just the ones with the handicapped siblings) that was far beyond anything that could have been created through your normal corporate team building exercises.  We began to form true bonds.  The more important the relationship, the less skill matters.

The author shares a couple of stories in the book when talking about what people remembered about their boss.

“They tended to be moments that the bosses were not likely to remember and would probably think were insignificant, yet often revealed something of their humanity.”

He also goes on to say “In both parenthood and management, it’s not so much what we do as what we are that counts.”

Have you established some real human bonds with your team?  People want to know who you are, not just what you do.  Being real human beings, not just corporate facades creates the bonds that we need to build real team, overcome the challenges of live and work, and allow for the patience that it takes to make mistakes and grow together.

Being genuine and being vulnerable are two of the phrases I’m hearing a lot lately in corporate consulting circles.  Being genuine and vulnerable makes you real.  People want to work with and for real people.

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1 comment

Absurd!: Giving Up Management Techniques - Team Leadership Culture February 26, 2016 - 3:17 pm

[…] this year.  The title is Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson.  You may want to consider dropping back and reading the previous blogs about ABSURD!  I think it will put each new one in great […]


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