There is an art and a science to building alliances and partnerships. It’s like two sides of a penny.
On one side, you have the building of the Lincoln Memorial. It represents the nuts and bolts of alliances making – the processes and actual business analytics to help you choose the best go-to-market strategy, the best partner based on objective core competencies such as geographic scope, technology, research, etc. These aspects are the strategic and operational elements needed for any alliance to be successful. Like foundations and pillars of the Lincoln Memorial they give the alliances structure. They, in effect, allow you the best business structure possible. These are the more objective and contextual pieces of alliances.
Yet, on the other side of the penny you have the face of Lincoln himself. The other side of the coin represents the more subjective part of strategic alliances. It has Lincoln, the person who one actually relates to and who is integral to building the alliance. What I would call the partnership side of the business.
Alliances and partnerships are each part of the same coin, and you can’t have one without the other. You can have excellent strategies and objective reasons and structures but without the partnership it all falls apart. And you can’t have the partnership without the alliance. You have to have a reason for entering the relationship in the first place and that reason needs to make sense and be built on sound thinking and sound strategy.
So what do love and power have to do with this? They are the essential building blocks of the type of leadership that will help you to be successful in developing the kind of relationships that make the alliances succeed.
Let’s talk about love first. When you tap into the lover side of leadership, you are tapping into the leadership capacity within you that is intuitive and emotive. The lover can genuinely relate and authentically engage in the kind of inquiry that helps you to understand the other’s point of view. It allows you to look deeper, as if seeing things through the eyes of the partner. The lover is the part of you that enters the more vulnerable spaces in the relationship, always looking for common ground and for the deeper meaning behind the connection between individuals.
To be like the lover, you must be capable of identifying with your partners’ feelings; you must learn to surrender to intuition and what’s going on, to go with feelings as they come up, and to be patient. It requires (simultaneously) both deep connecting and letting go. It also requires you to be playful and even relaxed in the face of a difficult negotiation.
Yet the lover-leader in you can go astray. The lover-leader often engages too deeply in the relating. He often gets mired in the emotional fix that comes with finding that common ground between each partner. He’s always looking to build and create a profound and touching interaction at every moment. He could be at a McDonald’s asking for a Big Mac, and before you know it, he’s tearfully discussing the plight of fast food in our society. Dude all I wanted was a Big Mac – not a deep interaction of relationship.
When entering the lover in you, you can get lost in the facilitation, on the idea of wanting everyone to trust you and be attracted to what you’re trying to do, and in many ways, wanting to prove how passionate and real you are. This is the shadow side of being the lover – the part of the lover that’s needy, not connected to reality, and fishing for a deeper connection all the time, time and time again
Effective conscious engagement requires that you always remain aware of what is happening within you, in the relating and in the negotiation itself and then use that awareness to determine what level of the lover-side and what level of the warrior-side is needed to best facilitate the conversation and move the conversation and relating forward. Staying in the field of conscious engagement is really a function of your own internal capacity to stay in inquiry and your own healthy and autonomous relating.
On the productive side of lover-relating, you explore other people’s thinking, look at the assumptions you both make, and try to understand their point of view. You work to suspend your judgment long enough so that you can truly understand the other person’s point of view and be able to look deeper for what might be missing, asking yourself what it is about the other person’s actions or negotiations position that makes sense. Working through your productive lover you’ll state your opinions openly and ask others to challenge them in the discussion. The lover-side asks questions that sound like this:
How do you see it?
What is the thinking behind what you’re saying?
Why is this important to you? Please help me to understand.
What do you think about what I just said?”
What am I not seeing?”
The lover-side questions to facilitate proper inquiry, to learn more about what the other is thinking. That knowledge helps to see things more directly through his partner’s eyes. And this knowledge allows the partnership to more effectively work toward common ground.
Stay tuned for the next blog in the series – Leading through the productive warrior.