Habit Four: Think Win-Win

You’ve probably heard it said that “nice guys finish last”, but the truth is that when everyone is only out for themselves, nobody can really achieve anything great. We’d never be able to create any of the amazing things that fill our world without people working together with a sense of a higher purpose than individuals trying to take advantage of those around them. Progress and innovation is slowed and stifled where there is a lack of trust.

There’s a wonderful book titled “the five dysfunctions of a team“, in which the author (Patrick Lencioni) points out that all teamwork has to be built on a foundation of trust. I’ve seen environments with high levels of trust, and I’ve seen environments so full of distrust it’s amazing that the businesses were still operating at all. Owners and managers asking for honest feedback to improve operations, but then blaming people and becoming aggressive when they are given an answer. An overwhelming majority of larger businesses have identified CULTURE as one of the most critical keys to their success.

Thinking win-win isn’t just about building a culture of trust though. Gary Vanyerchuk talks about how he always aims for a 49/51 split in terms of value – because he knows that by giving away something now, he’s creating a long-term partnership that will grow over time. He’s in a position that he can think long term, and he’s gained real influence and success because he’s been able to do so. For him, this is a win-win.

As an employer, what are you willing to give up in the short term to gain value in the long term? Investing in culture, training, and creating opportunities for staff to advance will build a workplace which people will not want to leave, and they will improve their skills and create a long term value for your business.

As an employee, what are you willing to give up in the short term to gain value in the long term? Working unpaid overtime to ensure customer satisfaction could mean that the customer stays with your company instead of leaving. Studying after hours to improve your skills and contribute more to your team makes you more valuable, and will make your own working life easier.

Often the best way to get to a win-win scenario is to make sure you are thinking long term, and to truly understand what the other party needs and wants from the partnership.

Covey draws a hard line with his “win-win or no deal” stance, but if you’ve got the flexibility to choose, there’s no other way to do business.

Check out the previous articles in the series Habit One, Habit Two, and Habit Three

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