The Four Requirements of Partnership

Posted | Category: BRM Capability | Contributed

Whenever I write or speak about the nature of the BRM role, I often draw parallels between what an effective BRM and a leader does using John C. Maxwell‘s succinct formula: “Leadership is influence.Business Partnership That’s it. Nothing more; nothing less.” Indeed, BRMs, whose job is to establish and maintain healthy balanced relationships between service providers and business partners to maximize the value of business investments into the services provided, know that what they do is all about influence–it’s about leadership. In its most effective form, leadership does not rely on coercive positional power. According to Peter Block, effective leaders build long-term partnerships in which the role of a leader becomes that of a steward who, as Block writes in Stewardship,  is “deeply accountable for the outcomes of a group, an institution, a community, without active to define purpose for others, control others, or take care of others.”

The idea of the Business Relationship Manager acting as a strategic partner is well-known to BRM Institute members and our webinar attendees, who are familiar with the four levels of the Business Relationship Management Role Maturity Model we frequently discuss. Strategic Partnership is the highest level of BRM role maturity–one which focuses on partnership across the business partner’s lifecycle and is developed enough to provide seamless integration across the enterprise. According to Block,  the following four requirements of partnership need to be met to have a real partnership:

1. Exchange of Purpose. Each partner has to struggle with defining purpose and then engage in dialogue with others about what they are trying to create. Partnership means that each of us at every level is responsible for defining the vision and values. Purpose gets defined through dialogue.

2. Right to Say No. Partnership does not mean that you always get what you want. It means you may lose your argument, but you never lose your voice.

3. Joint Accountability. Each person is responsible for outcomes of the current situation. There is no one else to blame. Partners each have emotional responsibility for their own present and their own future.

4. Absolute Honesty. In partnership, not telling the truth to each other is an act of betrayal. One of the benefits of redistributing power is that people feel less vulnerable and are more honest.

Block also cautions that, in real partnership, parties have no option to abdicate by throwing their hands up and standing back in passive resignation: “All right, if that’s what you think, fine. It’s all yours.” Partners maintain contact–they stay engaged in the decision making process and remain fully responsible for the outcomes.

Image courtesy of  Employers for Work-Life Balance.

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