Thought Leadership on Authentic Change Leadership – ‘Shift Happens but you can lead it’ presented by Ally Solutions Group.
The term partnership is often overused and under-appreciated. You will hear people say “let’s partner on that” or “hey, we should get together and talk about how we can partner.” When people have the same definition or expectation of partnership, new ideas, innovation and new business models can come out of the conversation. When they don’t, it can become a “what can you do for me” oriented exchange. I have learned over the past 10 years that “partner” can mean something radically different to each party.
Most successful partnerships that I have had, where both of us were engaged and benefited financially, have been with women business owners. Maybe it’s because of mutual respect, maybe it’s because we put our focus on helping our client first and the rest all fell into place. We left our egos at home, and we met each other with energy and passion around creating something new. We achieved our mission and more. This is not always the partnership experience.
It’s important to consider the three most important essentials to a successful partnership. For those of you that work in business development or the consulting arena, you will have quick reference to some of these examples.
- Integrity first.
It doesn’t matter how exciting or lucrative an opportunity is, if it isn’t ethically sound, walk away. Listen to that little nagging feeling that you are getting in the pit of your stomach. We all get it, however many ignore it and let their brains take over. Compromising what is right is going to cause more trouble, drama and possible legal implications than any eventual dollar pay-off could fix. Especially in the very competitive consulting marketplace, people get confused by the fiduciary and legally binding, non-compete clause. To me, it’s not confusing. If it’s your client, and I am working with your client through you, any great idea I have for us to grow the account, comes back to you, PERIOD. I does not go directly to the client thinking “well if they think it’s good enough they will hire me directly to do the work”. Wrong, there is no gray area, unless you agree to another type of arrangement.
There is a greater importance here on integrity and ethics. It is not only what’s right in the legal world, it’s what’s right in the universe. Karma and the circle of energy is real. How we treat people and uphold our commitments matters. Some people say, “but it’s business.” Doing the right thing always matters, especially in business!
Having the same business philosophy matters in relation to how we treat our clients and how we treat each other in partnership opportunities. It is a critical foundation to communications and expectations. I believe it’s crucial to have an open dialogue with any prospective partner about their core philosophy around client service (what a new business meeting would like look) in addition to discussing the role each party will play. Even if you are the company being brought in to partner with a bigger company, your business philosophy matters. Trust me, if both parties are not aligned with similar guiding principles, the client will quickly see through it and it will not ultimately work.
- The “Win/Win”
Partnering can provide great value to all the respective participants. First and foremost, for me it’s always about building and maintaining long lasting relationships. We go into every partnership with the core platform of “how can we best serve our client, and YOU as our partner.” I am a true fan of leveraging each other’s strengths. That is why you are partnering in the first place because each partner company has a unique expertise that is needed to complete the equation. If we do not go in honoring that and exploring how we both can win, we are missing the point. It is about mutual encouragement and service for a higher good. If we could be successful on our own, we wouldn’t be looking to add a critical component to enhance the best outcome.
Out of the many partnerships we have enjoyed over the years, the best unions have been about combining strengths to serve our clients in the best way possible. We continue to recruit the best people to build our teams internally but by partnering with awesome external talent, in the right way, we are creating even more robust solutions for our clients.