Trust and mutual respect the bedrock on which business is built
THERE ARE times when it is worth taking a different look at the world.
Seemingly beset as we appear to be with Brexit overload, Trump tweets and Merkel murmurings, may I suggest an antidote?
My somewhat unusual commute between Harrogate and Hangzhou as well as Beijing and Shanghai, I believe gives me a somewhat unique perspective.
Doing business in and with China is here to stay.
The rising millions of middle class Chinese are not only hungry for brands but also for luxury ones as diverse as Canadian maple syrup, New Zealand manuca honey and Yorkshire toffee.
Farrah’s Harrogate toffee and fudge to be exact. This unique and local sweet has become part of my personal brand in China and says more than any ‘common’ gift.
It’s part of my personal brand and helps me stand out in the crowded Chinese marketplace.
I strongly believe all leaders should stand for something personally, not just from a business standpoint.
The giving of gifts is a part of everyday business etiquette in China.The thoughtful provision of a personal gift remains an essential element of mutual respect and honour which underpins a remarkable similarity between the Chinese business community and the Brits.
In a country which has struggled with the respect of copyright and the protection of intellectual property for many years, the Chinese have a very strong belief in the personal relationships that develop on the back of a very British notion.
“My word is my bond” translates exactly in every respect into Chinese and Chinese culture.
Where contracts are usually the start of a relationship rather than the end of a negotiation, and can be subject to change at a moment’s notice, trust and mutual respect are the bedrock upon which business is built.
It’s all a matter of perspective and the lesson is clear.
If you are seeking to build a personal relationship as well as a business deal then looking for mutual benefit, win win, the middle way or balance as my Chinese contacts, colleagues and clients are constantly striving to do, is the only way to succeed.
It is an approach I would encourage all business leaders to deploy.
In my new role as chairman of the IoD in Yorkshire and the Humber I am seeking to bring a different perspective to build on the good work of my predecessors.
This column will not always reference China of course.
However, I do believe that businesses need directors with a strong and independent perspective.