How You Handle Business Wins (And Losses) Impact Your Team's Loyalty
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
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The other day, I was at a startup’s office, and overhead the CEO of the young organization talking on the phone with someone in the leadership ranks of, well, a larger and older company, which was operating in the same sector that his was. (Before any of you tell me that it’s bad manners to listen in other people’s phone calls, let me state for the record that this particular entrepreneur has a loud, bombastic voice, and I can assure you that every one of his employees in the office that day could hear this conversation- or rather, at least one side of it.)
As I heard it, the call consisted of essentially the entrepreneur trying to find out why his fledgling enterprise had been essentially blocked by the larger corporate from competing for a particular contract or deal from a third party. It appeared that the older player had pulled some strings so as to ensure that the startup would effectively not be allowed to even enter the field, much less make a play for it. Now, yes, I know it’s a tough market out there, and one often has to make use of every trick in the book to gain the upper hand over their rivals in business, but in this particular case, I couldn’t help but feel that the larger enterprise was not playing fair and was being unnecessarily petty.
But what caught my attention in this particular conversation was the way the entrepreneur conveyed his feelings on the situation to the individual on the other end of the call. Over the course of the conversation –which was being done in full view and earshot of his team- the entrepreneur told his counterparty that he was fighting for his chance at the deal not just as a personal exercise, but for the people that he had onboard his enterprise: the deals he secured for the company translate into salaries and livelihoods for his small group of employees.
He then proudly declared that he took the blockade imposed on him as a sign of his enterprise’s strength and standing in the marketplace- there had to be something he and his small team were doing right for such a well-established, deep-heeled company to resort to such a mechanism to keep their apparent place at the helm. Remember, the entire office was being privy to everything the entrepreneur said- I could swear I could see a few of the employees there straighten up their backs, as if to both take on their boss’s apparent badge of honor, while also getting themselves to work harder and put more of themselves in to make their fledgling enterprise soar higher.
I’m pretty certain that the entrepreneur didn’t realize the impact his words were unconsciously having on members of his teamwhich is perhaps what made it seem all the more sincere, and, well, nice. He may have lost the chance to secure a contract- but he did manage to further secure his team’s loyalty and trust. And as we all know, deals may come and go, but your team is what makes your enterprise- and this particular entrepreneur, by keeping his people on top of all that he does, and being respectful and conscious of the work that they do, seems to have got this concept right.
And the rest of you should follow suit.