No organization or leader can operate from a position of isolation. We all have suppliers and we all have customers. To put this is more general terms, all organizations have goals, but they all operate in an environment that gives them permission (authorizing environment) and they all require resources to accomplish their goals. The authorizing environment, resources, and goals must closely align to achieve success. Consequently, we all must operate within a greater network; no person is an island.
In the military, the authorizing environment is the U.S. Congress and they are also at the top of the chain in providing resources. Congress passes the authorization bills that allows the military establishment to exist, organize, and execute. Congress also passes the appropriations bills that provide the military with the funds needed to do what Congress has already authorized. This all flows down further to the military services, major commands, and lower execution levels. Do you think that when a member of Congress visited my base I stayed in my office; I don’t think so. I explained in detail what our organization contributed to the defense of our nation so that congressman would continue to authorize and fund my organization.
In business, the government provides authorization because it established laws and regulations within which a company must operate. Also, the general economy and the market establishes the environment in which a business can operate, and it is specifically the customers that pay for the products that along with investors, fund the business. In a down economy, there are not so many startups; customers have less income at their disposal and venture capital is just not available. In an environment of tight regulation, organizations find difficulty operating although some restrictions are necessary to protect the public.
Businesses also have investors and boards that draw the authorization boundaries and it is the investors, public or private, that provides a funding base for a business, particularly a new business. You “the leader” need to have an ongoing dialogue with your investors and you must listen to your board and know each board member well.
No business or the military operates in a vacuum. They have suppliers and relationships with suppliers can make or break a business particularly when the supply chain is an integral part of manufacturing. Organizations all have customers, even the military (the American people), without which they could not exist. Suppliers are customers because you provide them product specifications, so they can deliver their product to you.
The very same things can be said of churches and ministries. The customers are the members and attendees and they along with other donors, provide the funds to operate. But a church is not about money; it has a focus that is on a much higher level because they have a supplier and donor, that owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Followers of Jesus are part of His church and the Lord is the one whom followers must worship and honor and the Lord is the one that provides the direct reason for being (authorization) and the resources (all things come from His hand) to conduct ministry.
The point of this discussion is that you “the leader” must spend time building relationships. You must be in the business of building relationships, not only with customers but also suppliers. Know the other leaders who make it possible for you to succeed in business and avail yourself to those for whom you are a supplier. So much of what you “the leader” does must be about establishing and maintaining relationships beyond your organization, influencing people (we call that leadership) to be a vital part of your greater team.
On a personal level, there is the most important relationship; that is, with the ONE. He who can meet your every need if you allow it and it is He who desires a personal relationship with you. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “… seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open to you . . .” (Matt. 5:3, 7:7) If you have a relationship with the ONE, Jesus, all other relationships, your profession, your friends, and your family, will be of a deeper meaning and have an eternal perspective. Most importantly, if you know Jesus, you shall reside with Him throughout eternity. It is the “One Thing” upon which your relationships and eternal destiny must reside. Is there a greater Hand in your relationships?