What do the following having in common?
- The doctor you remember fondly
- The best teacher who ever taught you
- The professional who helped you when you were feeling vulnerable
They showed up from the moment you needed them. ‘Elegant Andrew’ was our first obstetrician’s nick name. He was also my boss. He was called ‘Elegant’ because he was always formally dressed, even in the middle of the night when he was hauled out to get a baby out of trouble. He organised a scan, almost as soon as he knew we were going to be parents so that we could say ‘There beats the heart of a Jiwa’. He was excited for us. He did not have to be there for the delivery because he trusted the midwives on his team and they were clearly at ease with him. But we knew that Andrew could get a baby out within 20 minutes of being called if there was a problem. I saw him do that for a woman who bled unexpectedly during labor. He was there minutes after we entered the labor ward and then again as soon as our baby was born. We have the pictures to prove it. His smiling face beaming down at the newborn in his arms as if he were family.
We also remember the solicitor who facilitated the purchase of our first home. We were new to Scotland and were hardly familiar with the laws around buying and selling property. From the moment we entered his rooms we felt a sense of calm even though we knew that one of his juniors was handling the actual transaction. He walked us through the process, connected us with his team and telephoned in person to tell us we were homeowners as soon as it was official. We sought his help again until we moved out of the country and he informed us with great regret that he could not help us in another jurisdiction.
The point is that these individuals built the relationship with their clients before there was a problem. They showed up. They engendered a sense of personal involvement and excitement or concern and whether it was good news or bad they would be there in person. Some things can’t be delegated. Establishing and maintaining a relationship with your clients or patients is one of these. The enormous social capital that can be banked simply by being there at the key touch points in the relationship is crucial. It doesn’t mean that you have to do everything that is required in a complex case where team work is necessary. However there are critical points in the journey where you have to show up. The outcome, good or bad will be recalled in the light of your first encounter with people. There are many factors that impact on outcomes for people who seek professional advice. There is much that can assist to improve the outcomes; technology, drugs, procedures and luck. However one key factor remains through all such events in our lives, the human factor. People have an innate desire for human contact when they are feeling challenged. Be there if that is the nature of your business.
Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust. Jesse Owens
Picture by ILO in Asia and the Pacific