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WHY RELATIONSHIPS ARE AT RISK IN CORPORATE AUSTRALIA... and why every leader and their team ought to be concerned.

By David Penglase

The rise and rise of the various social media platforms has certainly opened up a number of positive opportunities for business owners and leaders to reach out and strengthen their brand, consumer trust and relationships with their existing and potential clients.

However, amidst the many positives that we can gain from social media, there is a deepening dark side that has the potential to put relationships and trust at risk. And when trust is at risk… everything is at risk!

Here are just two critical and current trends putting relationships at risk in corporate Australia:

1. There is a real and present danger that many business owners and leaders are confusing their goal and pursuit to grow the number of ‘friends’, ‘followers’, ‘connections’ and ‘likes’ for their business with the more important focus of earning, building and maintaining high quality trust-based relationships.

2. The ever-shortening attention span of leaders and their team members being caused by the noise of disruption and the constant interruption of being always switched on to a host of social media platforms and reacting to the FOMO (fear of missing out).

The growth of mindlessness at work

Both of these critical and current trends are resulting in a lack of presence at work which is creating more moments of mindlessness – putting creativity, problem solving, and the very fabric of relationships at work at risk.

Just think about the number of times you’ve observed a team meeting when someone is presenting to the team and one or more team members (maybe even yourself) are ‘tuned out’ of the moment and tuned into reacting to a social media post.

And recent research suggests this might be about to get even worse. In a meta-analysis of 72 studies of 14,000 tertiary education students, researchers Konrath, O’Brian, & Hsing (2011) found that today’s tertiary students score about 40% lower in empathy than students did 20-30 years ago.

While cause and effect in human behavioural studies is difficult to validate, the researchers suggest that one contributing element in the reduction of empathy is most likely to be the decreased face-to-face contacts due to the Internet. The researchers point out that “empathy seems to enable people to relate to others in a way that promotes cooperation and unity rather than conflict and isolation.”

It would seem to me that most leaders would like to promote cooperation and unity among their team members rather than conflict and isolation.

Putting ‘Real Relationships’ Back On The Corporate Agenda

The quality of internal and external trust relationships in any organisation will directly impact almost every measure of success… and yet, there’s a real danger that in the midst of living in a corporate and competitive world full of disruption we lose sight of or take for granted the one constant in our life that we can always rely on – trust relationships.

Let’s put trust and relationships and character back on the agenda of corporate Australia. Let’s all commit to being more mindfully present in the moments that matter most more often… those moments when we’re with others.

If you’ve got a conference, professional development program or you’re planning your next team meeting and you’d like to put relationships, character and trust on your agenda, give me a call on 02 9546 2422 or email me –

My best to you for now...


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