It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint

We all know that lasting business relationships just don’t happen overnight. Where is the commercial value in a very short highly explosive burst of activity followed by an extensive and arduous void of idleness? What sense is there for either party in investing time and resources building trust and getting to know each other’s businesses, idiosyncrasies, intentions and requirements if it is ‘Fergy time’ and the whistle is about to blow?

26 years
Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the most successful managers in world football. His relationship with Manchester United began when appointed manager in November 1986. During his 26 years at the club he won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two UEFA Champions League titles. In the 1999 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, he was knighted for his services to the game. He retired in 2013 having won the Premier League in his final season.

Nearly didn’t happen
And yet his success could so easily have been a work of fiction if certain United fans had got there way back in September 1989. United suffered a humiliating 5–1 away defeat to Manchester City followed by six defeats and two draws inspiring a particularly vitriolic banner at Old Trafford demanding his sacking. There was genuine pressure on the board to dismiss him but things got better. Things got an awful lot better!

When he retired David Cameron described him as a “remarkable man in British football” and United’s shares fell 5% on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Board gave him time to do something exceptional and they recognised the value in playing the long game.

Attributes required
At PEA we believe in long-lasting, mutually successful relationships. But what attributes do you need to achieve them?

Well, we are authentic, we know who we are and do not pretend to be something we are not. The roads to commercial success are littered with the bodies of those who over promise and agree to unrealistic demands.

We love to work in a collaborative team process with clients. We are partners not suppliers.

We are loyal, we listen, give the very best service we possibly can and work very hard to achieve this.

Intelligence and trust
We know that the real keys to longevity are intelligence and trust. They are the most important ingredients in building strong, long lasting business relationships. A recent article in The Harvard Business Review stated: ‘Companies that foster a trusting culture will have a competitive advantage. Who would choose to stay in a stressful, divisive atmosphere if offered a productive, supportive one?’

In Aesop’s fables the story of The Tortoise and the Hare perfectly illustrates that life is a marathon not a sprint, that intelligence will beat pure speed every time because ‘slow and steady can win the race.’

So long relationships are about having a great team and they are not built overnight.

Just ask Sir Alex.

For more details on how we can help you please contact +44 1481 730988

by James Orrick

James holds a Masters in Corporate Governance from Bournemouth University, a BSc (Hons) in Accounting and Finance from the University of Essex, is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.

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