18 tips for Better Partnership Working

I have just completed a 2 day workshop with a great group of partnership managers.  Here is what I learned!

  1. Get really clear and comfortable about your self interest. Your personal  reaction to the opportunities and possibilities offered in your role.
  2. Communicate this powerfully in language that the recipient will understand and value.
  3. Develop your professional self interest – the overlap between your individual/personal and professional/organisational response to what REALLY matters.
  4. Build your power to influence what really matters through investing in person to person relationships. Invest in a series of 121s. Share what really matters to you. Be clear on how they will perceive you.
  5. Use the allies/opponents/adversaries/fencesitters/bedfellows model to help you structure this.
  6. Become power hungry (why wouldn’t you want power to make what you believe in happen? Don’t leave power for the bad guys of this world to grab!)
  7. Building a powerful coalition around your ideas inside the business is as important as building one externally.
  8. Know your reputation – find ways to find what people REALLY think of you and your agenda – but are too polite to say!
  9. Don’t be busy fools. Work on the most powerful relationships. That is the relationships that give you the most power – this has little or nothing to do with the ‘authority’ power of the other party. Think leverage. Think goals.
  10. Think ‘enlightened self interest‘  and here.
  11. Ring fence thinking time – 2 lots of 90 minutes a week – to develop your agenda – rather than respond to the needs and agendas of others. This will increase your sense of control and reduce your levels of stress – as well as making you much more effective and creative. GUARANTEED.
  12. Agree on the ends.   Be different, challenging, creative and risky when it comes to the means. You don’t always have to play by the rules. Think Mandela.
  13. If you play by the rules of bureaucracy it will find ways of stifling change.
  14. Don’t let years of socialisation in being helpful and humble result in you being a selfless partner. Nobody wants to partner with Uriah Heep – but they may just take everything you have.
  15. Resist the safety of bureaucracy – maintenance, safety, dependency (external locus of control).
  16. Pursue the entrepreneurial way – greatness, courage and autonomy (internal locus of control).
  17. Don’t waste too much time and energy on the difficult people. Invest it in those who share your self interest – life is just better that way.
  18. Always take your own chalk and be cautious in your selection of cues….(this is not a mystical metaphor – just a statement of fact).

Anything I have missed?

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Jung


  1. annmrmb7 says:

    great List Mike!
    I would add :-
    Do go in with the appreciations of the other guys point of view/context.
    It is not just about’ winning’,’beating’ and scoring goals-The idea of true partnership , is to allow others space to be,yet holding your own integrity,and the core values of you and your organisation,whilst accepting that a little harmonious compromise, and professional courtesy, will oil the partnership…give and take…not just take take from either side.

  2. Not sure about number 5, Mike. How to receive the model (and interests) of a potential partner/adversary/ally etc. is a craft in itself. You can give them the space fully to describe what they want … of course your giving them the space is itself an expression of control. You can do as you say in no.5 and utilise what they model in building a joint structure, provided all they say can assist the partnership. But there are a number of other ways of dealing with it. If, for example, there are elements that could help and others that are totally out of the question, you can focus on the positive whilst undermining the unacceptable through rational debate until it falls off the agenda. Another route is what I call jiu-jitsu where you take the thrust of the opponent and use its force to throw the discussion into the area you want. And there are occasions when a partnership manager has to make an objective assessment that might be that a partnership would not be in one’s interest.

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