Curve Benders: The Intersection of the Future of Work and Strategic Relationships


It's such a disruptive time in the world. Individuals and businesses are reeling to make sense of what's happening. Many leaders are using defensive strategies to keep their operations afloat. More astute leaders, however, are pivoting their capabilities to minimize disruptions in their operations.

As a whole, this pandemic gives us an impetus to step-up as leaders. We are called to transform our organizations, not only survive but thrive in these trying times. Leaders must re-think, re-imagine, and re-invent critical parts of their business to address the most pressing questions facing their future.

One critical factor that can help businesses transform is Curve Benders. They can change our growth from a linear to a non-linear trajectory. We can find Curve Benders among our strategic relationships. Think of them as those people who make you change your course for the better. They see your potential and invest to see you succeed. They're the ones who can provide the perspective when you're about to make crucial choices.

Curve benders can also be your "safety place" where being vulnerable isn't considered a weakness but an opportunity to find strength. They help you find your relevance and significance now and in the future. Business leaders can openly say, "I don't know the answer" among people they trust. They feel safe because they know that they won't be judged. Instead of giving unhelpful criticisms, these curve benders can point them in the right direction.

In the organizational setting, curve benders can connect your business to the people you need to reach your goals. They can also become your faint market signals to allow you to understand the market and their needs. They can tell you how competitors are doing and why they're doing those things.

In this pandemic, some of these relationships have shown us how to adapt our business platforms to continue operating despite interruptions and surprises.

Tactile Needs and Relationships

During lockdowns, people have shown greater empathy for one another because of our collective experience. Bosses are less critical of their workers and more compassionate. This has created a greater sense of community.

Lockdowns have also shown that human beings have tactile needs. We need touch, interaction, conversation. This leads us to reconnect with others. Neighbors now find time to sit down, albeit socially distanced, and engage on a more regular basis. Despite these unprecedented times, people are finding ways to maintain their connections.

I've had conversations with diverse sets of individuals myself during this pandemic, and they've proved incredible sources of insight, learning, and growth.

I subscribe to a portfolio approach in the way I choose my strategic relationships. This means that the people I've invested time and effort in, come from diverse backgrounds. This diversity is a source of profound insights.

Similarly, as business leaders, you can take inventory of your key relationships and find ways to connect with them. The diversity of their points of view can prove to be of high value to you and your organization. These different lenses can broaden your horizons.

Aside from that, it's equally important to accept when our relationships take a different stand or change their minds. Don't take it against them. Instead, think of it as a way for you to evolve, learn, and grow.

Preparing for the Future

Some forces can dramatically impact and change how we work, live, play, and give in the coming months or years. These forces include technological advancements, geopolitics, and Black Swan events, among others. All of them are learning opportunities so that we can grow and adapt. In the process, we learn to recalibrate our priorities regarding how we serve, interact, and give value to others.

The pandemic highlights the attributes that allow certain companies or industries to thrive despite the significant disruptions in both demand and supply. These attributes are also needed to plan even when the future is uncertain.

Common among leaders of businesses that thrive is foresight. This is a leader or an organization's ability to think ahead and anticipate minor disruptions and major ones that can upend the business. Those with foresight were reasonably quick in pivoting their businesses so that the absence of proximity did not become a hindrance to doing business.

A roadmap is also present among thriving businesses. A roadmap requires clear objectives, contingency plans, and concrete steps for implementation.

Other attributes present among these businesses are confidence in capabilities and authorship in creating action, agility, and pivoting.

Meanwhile, curve benders are the people you need so that you can navigate through disruptions, minor or significant. In other words, curve benders are key foundations for enabling people to create the roadmap.

In the roadmap, it's necessary to have a starting point and an exit point. In between these points, you'll need more than education or experience. You'll find that you have capability gaps, and some of the people in your relationships can help you acquire, develop, and fine-tune your capabilities. Curve benders can even accelerate you to your destination because their connections can become your own as well.

Curve benders--and our strategic relationships in general--can help us prepare even if the future is uncertain.

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