Symbiotic Relationships

I had the honor of being asked to speak at the Minnesota High Tech Association’s spring conference yesterday. My topic was change management, about which I am obviously passionate, and I had the great pleasure of being able to share the stage with Vikas Narula from Keyhubs. (Patty wrote earlier this year about Vikas’ innovative approach to uncovering the hidden influencers within your organization: the informal network that actually gets stuff done and makes change happen).

When Vikas and I met for the first time to discuss the agenda that we hoped would attract an audience to want to come hear about change and to plan our respective talks, we noticed that I repeatedly used the term “symbiotic relationship.” We laughed that this was an example of the biomedical engineer in me coming out. From the Free Dictionary:

Symbiosis, n. any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups, etc.

The reason I used this term was, the more we talked, the more we realized that we had complementary approaches to change and that we could benefit from the other’s services. We appreciated the expertise each party brought to the table, and instead of considering each other as competitors or as adversaries, we approached this new relationship from a perspective of how we could leverage each other’s strengths to deliver an even stronger message than we could deliver as individuals.

To me, this is an important aspect of being a change agent: do you view the inclusion of a new subject matter expert / additional change agent as a threat or as an opportunity? Do you take a moment to ask questions and learn what unique skills the new person brings to the team, so that you can all deliver a better result because they have joined you? Do you welcome them and give them a chance to share their ideas for how to make a compelling case for change / a more comprehensive solution / a better presentation for your audience?

The talk after ours was from Leadership Vision Consulting who specialize in leveraging the Clifton StrengthsFinder® to help companies build strong individuals, strong teams, and strong corporate cultures. Dr. Linda and Brian Schubring emphasized the importance of recognizing the strengths in the individuals with whom you work, to be able to build a better team, and thus an overall better organization.

I will post a link to the presentation when it is available online. In the meantime, I can tell you Vikas’ presentation was fantastic, and I enjoyed giving my portion of the talk even more because of the energy and enthusiasm I got out of making a great new connection, and learning more deeply why I do what I do.

Participation in the conference also helped me realize that one strength I bring to the table is the assumption that the addition of someone new will only make us better. I start from the premise that any new relationship can be mutually beneficial, or symbiotic!

About Michelle Smeby

Michelle Smeby is CEO of wHolistic Change, Inc. with more than 10 years of experience implementing enterprise solutions at Fortune 100 companies. Michelle specializes in helping corporations deliver transformational change.

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