How Good is Your Social Capital?

Smart organisations know they need three types of capital to make their business work well.

  1. Intellectual capital – smart people who know their stuff, both strategically and tactically,
  2. Financial capital – financial resources and backing to fund the business, and
  3. Social capital – the quality of relationships to make it all work.

However, for many of us, the social capital is unseen, under developed and taken for granted. Social capital is the quality of your relationships with stakeholders. Without it, business engines snarl up, communications go awry, things get missed, projects miss their deadline.

High social capital is more likely to give you a positive working culture, which delivers improved productivity, engagement and performance (for proof, see this HBR article)

‘Social Capital is the quality of your relationships with stakeholders’

How do you know how good your social capital is?

I’m going to show you how to measure how good your personal social capital is, and how you might improve it over the next few blog posts.

Firstly, let’s look at your personal social capital; the sum of the quality of your relationships with stakeholders (ie anyone with a vested interest in your business), be they your team, your customers, your suppliers, owners, managers, regulators, your local community, leaders, your family etc etc. You might say that a stakeholder is anyone with the power to ruin your day at work!

Get yourself a piece of paper.

Draw a picture of yourself in the middle. Like this

Now map out all the different stakeholders that you have to have a relationship with. You can name them if you like, or put them into groups. Like this

Once you have done this, consider your relationship with each of these. Think about how robust it is – can you be properly honest with them, do you feel safe to speak up about all sorts of things with them? Think about how reliable it is – are you sure they are there for you and you are there for them? Think about how resilient it is – will it cope when the chips are down?

Now give each relationship it a mark out of 10 as to how good it is. If you mark them at 0 it means you don’t know them at all. 10 would be a really strong relationship (robust, reliable and resilient as discussed above). Your  gut feel is fine, this is for you so be honest with yourself.

You probably find have some poor relationships and some good ones. If not, go back and rethink. If you are still not sure about the quality of your relationship, we’ve talked about relationships in more depth in this article.

Once you have put a number against all of them, start to consider where you think the relationship should be, given their importance in your work and home life. For example if you are wanting to get the senior leaderships’ buy in for a new idea, you might need to have stronger relationships and greater influence within this team. If your team are facing a challenging project you might want to lean in with them. Take a different coloured pen and once again, mark them out of 10 as to where they need to be for you right now.

Which relationships have the greatest difference between where it is and where it should be? These are the ones you need to work on.


In the next post I’ll talk about how you can start to develop and strengthen these relationships.

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