There is a negative sentiment around partnerships in that “They do not work”. At the base level, partnerships are relationships that can be short term or long term, and that exist in both our personal lives and business. Think about how much we “partner”. We have bestfriends, spouses, business partners, outside companies as partners to our business, internal departments, customers, vendors, etc. All partnerships start with excitement because they include due dilligence and the belief that there is a fantastic “fit”. And we obviously do not partner with the intention of failing, so why do most partnerships fail?
Regardless of the type of partnership, strain is typically caused by the perception of someone not doing their part. We are all human and therefore make mistakes. If a partnership is important enough to us we must be grown up enough to understand that others will lack the capacity we are use to and will do things that upset us from time to time. This happenes in even the best and most rewarding partnerships, so we must accept it if it is an important partnerhship. Also take some comfort in knowing that good partners do not make mistakes intentionally. They are typically striving to hit their goals just like us, and an unfortunate a side effect is them not having us or our perception in mind when doing so. It creates lumps in the partnership because we feel like they no longer have the time (capacity) or focus to take care of our needs. But if we can understand their side and still believe the partnership is good, it is usually premature to let the lumps be the cause of dissolution. And to add one disclaimer to this message: We should not let any partner continuously/consistently make mistakes or disrespect us or our organization – recognize that there are some partnerships that are destined to fail because there was a total miss-read on the initial fit, or the other side had a drastic change in mid-stream. This message is about not letting good partnerships fail because of our own lack of understanding and maturity.
In summary…. Others will screw up. Accept it and also accept the notion that others will not accept our screw ups. Strive for perfection and do not expect it in return – hence the concept of Leadership is not fair and never was meant to be. Leaders focus on doing the right things, at the right time, and accept that others will not be perfect. Striving to be the best and accepting that others often will not, goes a long way in controlling our stress level and making partnerships much more fruitful. Letting our egos and emotions get out of control becauses of something a partner did or did not do is the quickest way to dissolving good partnerships.
Others are motivated by what they want and by their perceived needs. We should never lose focus on these items if we believe that we and/or our oganization are a good fit. This applies to customers, partners, peers, and those that work on our teams. The same end goal is typically desired by two parties, however faliure to reach that goal is often caused by a leadership failure. Failure can occur due to someone’s ego, a personality conflict, or by forgetting our end goal.
Egos are typically about being right. Leaders should not be as petty. Put any large group together and the big egos will surface. Let’s take a large meeting with a potential client for example. We are there trying to do business with them and are conducting a final presentation. Several of their team members are present and all but one seem to be absolutely fantastic people, but there is that one. The one that doubts all that you say and openly challenges just about ever statement made. They are typically doing this because they have it in their head how something “should be” (even if they are not subject matter experts), and it would take lighting striking the same spot three times before they would believe otherwise. Guess what? Everyone in their organization knows they are like that and they likely feel sorry for you and what you are having to go through in that meeting. Also, the last thing the group wants is to go with a vendor that will be as combative as their co-worker is. Instead, we should focus on cordially difusing any concerns and move forward. The group will appreciate this, and the individual will appreciate us as well if we can agree with them when possible and elevate them among their group by letting them be “right”. We should not let the ego of one or two individuals ruin a potential deal with a customer. The same goes for letting internal egos cause conflict within our organization.
We cannot control or influence personalities. We can do our best within our own organization to be cognizant of personalities and the “fit” of the team members we add to the team, however, even the best leaders do not bat 1000%. Failure often occurs due to internal personality conflicts that result in drama (distraction), and when the situation goes on unaddressed by Leadership. Outside of our organizations we deal with whatever comes our way, and since the purpose of any organization is to serve the customer, we are typically prepared for it. When serving customers, failure can occur if/when a personality conflict results in the customer receiving a lower service level. The team may not agree with their tactics, perception, or just the customer in general. This is where the saying “The customer is always right” comes from. Most fantastic customer service organizations practice this ideology, even in the most severe circumstances. Remembering our end goal alluws us to get over personality issues and just focus on serving. And in the absolute worse of circumstances, organizations can choose not to do business with someone.
Lastly, we must stay focused on our end goal which is typically a happy customer. The good of the customer should bring a calm to any team conflict. When we forget this, personalities, egos, and drama build up too much and may cause a failure. Failure equals losing a customer, a valuable team member, or a important partner.
Teams feed off the energy of the leaders around them, regardless if it is positive or negative. They absorb their drive, attitude, and style. They even do so if the situation is bad, because the perception is that the leader has gotten to where they are for a reason. Therefore the quality of leadership shapes the culture of teams and the overall organization. I am lucky enough to work with a great team and to be able to interact with a large number of customer and partner organizations. I probably gleam the most insight from outside organizations in regards to what shapes their culture and success. And the most important thing learned is that it is very easy to identify the culture and it is always reflective of leadership. The most impressive and motivated organizations have the most impressive Leadership.
Walk into an office/department where the leader has a poor attitude, generally does not get along with others, and could care less about accomplishing anything new and growth oriented, and guess what the environment and the people within will be like? The same. Excitement is not in the air, everyone outside of their department who depends on them is viewed as a nussance, and people can’t wait to punch the clock and get to their real life and away from the horrible place where they “have to” go to work everyday.
Walk into an office of energetic people who know their goals and constantly approach each other with new ideas that lead to achieving them, and you will find people who enjoy their work and who have leaders who do as well. When others see (seeing is believing) their leader wanting to grow, proactively helping outside departments/customers solve problems, working hard towards common goals, and maintaining a positive attitude towards everyone they encounter – it RUBS OFF, just as does the opposite. Therefore, the responsibility of leadership is huge and can often be overwelming. It should be overwelming if we look around and the negative description above is reflective of our team or another team within the organization. There is a reason for it, which must be hunted down and corrected. This is best done by the leader themselves. It could be a resource issue, lack of leadership within, outside personal issues, etc. If we ever find ourselves in that negative place, there is an answer and a way back to an invigorating culture – and it all starts with self-awareness (us), which if we lack in that area it will eventually be brought to light by someone else and could be irrepairable by that time.
Remember that our actions, drive, and attitude are monitored on a daily basis, and that how we carry ourselves shapes the culture within and the perceptions of others around us.