Is Having a Strategic Business Partnership Right For You?

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I think many leaders and Executive Assistants or Chiefs of Staff tend to fall into their respective positions rather than take them on intentionally—perhaps more than we would care to admit! Top sales reps, promising mid-level managers, or recent MBA grads get appointed to leadership roles within their companies and many times get assigned an Executive Assistant. Or, like in my case, an assistant starts out in a junior level coordinator role and then moves through the ranks to EA and then Chief of Staff— figuring out much of the role and relationship dynamics on their own along the way.

And, hey, there is nothing wrong with on-the-job learning! But, I certainly wish I knew then what I know now about the power of intentional career pathing, focused personal and professional development, and the power of building a true strategic business partnership.

The problem with inheriting an Executive Assistant or Chief of Staff, getting assigned an assistant, or “falling into” the role of Force Multiplier is that there wasn’t a conscious decision to enter into a partnership. It was just a position, a promotion, a new direct report, or a new Principal to support… a job to do—and a job done well, no doubt! But the unique working relationship between a Principal and Force Multiplier deserves more.

I think the most successful Executive/Force Multiplier duos are those who intentionally choose partnership to build their business and further their careers. They are the individuals who would have been just as successful on their own, but decided that they didn’t want to go it alone.

Some people are just more naturally predisposed to partnership. Think about the those individuals who choose team sports like lacrosse or soccer versus individual sports such as gymnastics or triathlons. There are the solopreneurs who may outsource some work, but don’t necessarily want to be surrounded by a team or take on investors versus the entrepreneur who is dedicated to leading and growing through others. You have solo artists like Lady Gaga and Johnny Cash. And then you have bands like The Beatles. Additionally, there are those Executives who are hell-bent maintaining control (of their calendar, email, and more), and letting few, if any, people into the inner circle, let alone their Executive Assistant. Conversely, there is the leader who welcomes a strategic partnership with their Force Multiplier, collaborates with their leadership team, and truly believes that partnering with talented employees and external stakeholders will help everyone succeed faster and more effectively.

If you are an individual who wants a successful partnership, then you must find a company, an Executive, or a Force Multiplier who fosters your learning and growth and truly wants to go through life and business with a partner. Force Multipliers, it’s important for us to understand that not all leaders want that type of partnership. It will be incredibly frustrating and demotivating if you do and it is not reciprocated. Being aware of what you want and how your leader operates is imperative for a productive and lasting partnership—for both leaders and Force Multipliers.

Let’s take a look at what a successful business partnership actually looks like.

What Do Successful Leader/Force Multiplier Partners Do?

  • They clearly and respectfully tell each other the truth, even when it’s difficult to do so.
  • They keep the lines of communication open at all times.
  • They share what they are working on with each other and ask for help when needed.
  • They prioritize their weekly 1:1 meetings.
  • They have agreed to continuously work on their personal and professional development, together and apart.
  • They serve as a vault for each other.
  • They each know when to lead and when to follow.
  • They treat each other as equals.
  • They work in lock-step, yet also stay in their lane and take full responsibility for their own deliverables.
  • They let go of their egos and commit to making the best decisions for the company at large.
  • They are aware of each other’s energy and help each other manage their energy effectively.
  • They study each other’s behavior profiles and understand what motivates (and demotivates) each other.
  • They know each other’s goals and are actively working to help each other achieve them.
  • They challenge each other’s thinking, while also giving each other grace when needed.
  • They don’t take themselves too seriously!

What else do successful leader/Force Multiplier partners do? Do you prefer to work as part of a partnership? What is working in your current partnership? Where do you need to make improvements?

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