OK, I admit it. I have favorites - those unique comrades/friends who I know to be honest and smart. Theyíre the ones who keep me honest. We all have, or should have, trusted compatriots who teach us how to think, to see things differently, and to keep us out of trouble. One, in particular, reads and comments on my articles. Heís brutally honest, sometimes forcing me to change major theoretical viewpoints.
Power of Confidants
I conducted a (quick) literature review on the effectiveness of confidants, or supportive cohorts, on worker productivity and leader effectiveness. What I didnít expect to see, but shouldnít have been surprised by, were hundreds of studies on the link between confidant relationships and health / psychology and the generally positive outcomes that result from confidants being introduced to the physically or emotionally ill. My mind was fixed on business / leadership / training. Iíve got to stop doing that.
These medical studies showed that in most cases, having a confidant or someone to trust relates to better health and generally more positive feelings. In working environments, confidants can help others see situations differently, to think outwardly, and to operate in generally better moods. All these things are good for business.
Good confidants (positive, supportive, smart) help us not only see things differently, they lead us to new thinking patterns. Nothing beats a good after hours chat with co-workers or outside partners. Sometimes those conversations are benign, but even then, we learn things about ourselves and the world we live in.
My Confidantís Wisdom
Although my confidant is one of the smartest people I know, he may or may not glean his wisdom from reading academic journals and psychology books. What he does have is the power of emotional reasoning, that innate ability to learn and apply from all sorts of sources, like from great novels, popular articles, business models, and personal experience. I canít source what he comes up with, but his words are no less thought provoking. Some of his dollops of wisdom are:
- Business is amoral. What gives it morality are the people who run it.
- There is no one-thing that attracts great people to a business. However, removing one thing from the magical mix can destroy the entire gestalt.
- Great leadership canít be measured on line-by-line productivity on a spreadsheet.
- A mom and pop store doesnít have to build business empires. If they provide for themselves, their families and their future, they are successful.
- Great ideas seem to come out better with beer, when talking about something completely different.
- Bosses donít often recognize what goes into making a place [work context] worth living in.
- Performance reviews on abstract goals as a measurement of quality of work are asymptotic. (In math, asymptotic is a straight line associated with a curve such that any point moving along the curve approaches, but never reaches, the line infinitely.)
Sociality of Groups
Any one of these could turn into a course on its own philosophy. This comrade-of-minds says some really good stuff, much of which sparks me to research those truisms further. Often, what he thinks is opinion is supported by academic research.
My message: find those people who make you think and go out of your way to meet with them, even if only occasionally. Meet one-on-one or in groups; each has its own benefits. I meet with a group of nine or ten about once a year as a time to talk, share ideas, update each other on whatís going on, and, most importantly, eat and drink. We humans like to solve the worldís problems over food. (Surprisingly, none of us is overweight.)
Thanks for listening.
ďHistory will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.Ē [Martin Luther King, Jr.]