The Three Threes of Business

The First Three – Integrity, Trust, Relationship

All business is based on these three criteria. The criteria overlap to some degree but can best be understood in the business context as being sequential. Integrity earns trust, trust enables relationship, and relationship provides the basis for business. The opposite holds true as well. Lack of integrity engenders distrust, which in turn poisons relationship or the prospect of relationship.

Integrity leads me to trust your word and move toward you in relationship; lack of integrity causes me to distrust your word and back away. I may proceed because of limited options, need, or urgency; but I will proceed with hesitancy and caution, and most likely hedge my commitment. If I begin the business relationship with question marks, I will shorten the risk timeline and be more aggressive with protection clauses and include penalty clauses if possible. Later, after trust has been established, I will be comfortable relaxing more onerous provisions.

Business integrity is like a good foundation form at the corner of a building. It will be square, level, and deep. I can trust that the structure it defines will provide a strong foundation for everything that will be built on top of it. It will be solid, secure, and able to carry the load.

The Second Three – The Right Thing, the Right Way, for the Right Reasons

How does a company or its representative establish that they have high integrity worthy of trust? Like so much else in life, the answer is simple but not always easy. Do the right thing, the right way, for the right reasons.

The right thing may sometimes be hard to discern. Competing demands sometimes pressure the commitment to the client, or there may be options to choose from. Here’s the shocker: Clients (including internal clients) understand this. Good ones will be sensitive to how you make those decisions and how transparent you are in the process.

The right way seems easy enough. If you are a pro, then you know the right way or have a protocol for bringing it to the front. If you are a pro with integrity, you will not be tempted to take shortcuts or make other sacrifices at the expense of the client. Doing that is a good way to lose trust, and without trust … no relationship and no business.

The right reason is just as important. Motivation matters. If I know and agree with your motivation, then I can be a willing partner. If I don’t know or can’t agree on the why, then clouds begin to form, doubt creeps in, and I begin to spend more time thinking about the project, the problem, and the people. That is not a good place for a client to be, ergo, it is not a good place for your client to be.

The Third Three – Competency, Capacity, Discipline

Whatever your field of endeavor, these three underpin virtually everything else. Competency in what you do; capacity is the physical, people, and financial resources to do it with; and discipline empowers good decisions and wise management of resources, risk, and opportunities. These are foundational characteristics. You must develop them as core strengths and maintain diligence over each. They are your bedrock. Invest in them wisely and use them consistently to maintain balance, agility, and perspective. Nurture them and they will serve you well, allowing you to know when to avoid over-extending, or when to move swiftly. Your management systems are your friends. Build them strong, trust them, and deploy them with focus and rigor.

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