Can You Make the Jump from Communication to Partnership?

As I have mentioned in previous articles, the basic skill for dynamic leadership is Communication, coupled with the ability to connect and to create partnerships with direct reports, peers and top leaders within your organization.  Without this basic skill the best strategic plan falls short, and frustration can create greater distance.

I’ve been writing and exchanging ideas with leaders a lot lately, and it is becoming very apparent that communication and connection are the basic essential ingredients when it comes to leveraging the power of teams.  But these ingredients are frequently missing, affecting the level of accountability and partnership for creating better results.

Separation, distrust and competition can take over, which results in falling short of goals set by the team, the department and the overall business. In addition there is often a lack of awareness and understanding about other functions and teams in the organization that could enhance performance and results.

In today’s article, the focus is on partnership in general and specifically, partnerships that have a strategic advantage.

I have led group training and individual work on productivity and high performance, and I am very interested in moving the communication and connection needle so that changes in performance are sustainable.  One of my colleagues and I have begun the process of interviewing others to determine if connection and partnership has become a priority. Referring to an article written recently by Jacki Zehner at Goldman Sachs, where she discusses connection with everyone in the organization as a 360 degree perspective, we’re determining how much time and planning is going into creating the kind of network that Jacki Zehner refers to, which is an integral part of the communication, connection, partnership cycle.  In her example, interactive and connective behaviors are strongly considered when choosing partners at Goldman Sachs because the ability to care and to create relationships is an important factor in continued success.

But this is often not the case in many organizations. I spoke with a collaborative leadership client recently about the business of creating strategic partnership.  During our conversation, she realized that when she thinks of strategic partnership, she looks at business partnership connections between her corporation, and other corporations, to create opportunities in the marketplace.  But up until now, the idea of strategic partnership within her organization had not taken a priority. How many opportunities for creating greater success have been lost?

Are you making strategic partnerships a priority within your organization?
How many hours in a week do you spend having conversation with colleagues to plan for cross functional partnership? 
How many of your leadership peers do you know well and do you have regular conversation with?
As a team leader do you save time for team meetings to enhance the ownership and engagement of your team? 

As a consultant, I have often heard that the team relationship dynamic is more one-to-one between the leader and the team, rather than between team members, to foster partnership and engagement.  Creating intentional relationships, individually, but most importantly between team members, is a key to success.  We are all busy, and understandably, the relationship aspect of the organization is often neglected and considered a luxury that people do not have time for. Yet, high performance and sustainable results are a priority for everyone.  I suggest that fostering relationships and strategic partnerships is intrinsically connected with performance and results, and that time and resources devoted to communication, connection and partnership every day would be a valuable time investment.

Using performance tools to include communication in your schedule is something you can initiate immediately with measurable results. Start by scheduling time for intentional dialogue with colleagues, team members, partners, with the purpose of practicing your conversational skills and your listening abilities.  So often we do not listen well and long enough to glean the important information needed to make a quality connection, and truly know and understand another through experience vs. assumption. As people, we naturally enjoy connecting with others, however, when the trust factor has not been developed sufficiently if often leads to an amount of trepidation and reluctance.  Creating time for conversation and listening is an essential activity for creating trust.

We’ll continue to explore trust in the collaborative leadership culture in our next article.

Until then, if you have a leadership question, challenge, or success you would like to share, please be sure to leave a comment. I would enjoy hearing from you! – Patricia