Tag Archive for: Successful Partnering

PartnerShift-How to Profit from the Partnering Trend

Successful Partnering Starts in the Executive Suite (1563 Words)

Successful Partnering starts in the executive suite

PartnerShift to Successful Partnering

Successful partnering starts in the executive suite. Be the kind of person that others would like to do business with. At Levi Strauss, they’re living what they say. This privately held San Francisco-based company is letting action speak louder than words. They’re reshaping their corporate culture through dismantling parts of their hierarchy and overhauling how they design, manufacturer, and market their clothing. Former Chief Executive, Robert Haas, a former Peace Corps volunteer and great-great-grandnephew of founder Levi Strauss is being an optimal partner by building ethics into the company’s bottom line through ethical practices, empowerment, and an appreciation of diversity. He embraces empowerment, the practice of putting more power into the hands of Levi’s employees at all levels and encourages them to become actively involved in corporate decision making.

Levi Strauss is embracing the belief and practice of partnering throughout their many areas of business. Haas suggests that their emphasis on values is “not just nice behavior” but that it is also smart business. He states, “Consumers are looking more and more to the company behind the product. Companies have to wake up to the fact that they are more than a product on a shelf. They’re behavior as well.” This had much to do with their decision of partial withdrawal from China, citing “pervasive violations of basic human rights” as the reason.

Haas believes that this adherence to business ethics has not hurt the company. In fact he believes the reverse, it has helped the company’s profits. Haas walks his talk in being an optimal partner by embracing ethical business practices at Levi. He empowers his employees by giving power, rather than by protecting the power with the armor of his position. Similarly, Miles Gordon, CEO at Financial Network Investment Corporation, largest independent brokers organization in the country, advocates that being the optimal partner is their only strategy. In asking Gordon if he believes the ability to adopt partnering is in-bred, he answered:

“I believe you’re not born with it, but it starts from early life. I think it’s your family values which, looking back at our company, the people that have really bought into this (which is a lot of people) and especially people that have been around a long time and have orchestrated, family values are very similar. Strong family values, a strong belief in keeping the overhead down, working and not just living off other people. In other words, you earn what you get.”

Being an optimal partner, whether your a small retailer or a major supplier, is the right thing to do, not just because its ethical, which should be reason enough, but because it pays off, as illustrated by the example of Levi Strauss & Company and for you.

THINKING your way to being an optimal partner is a start. For decades, the late, Dr. Norman Vincent Peal lectured across the country about the possibilities that are available through the power of positive thinking. In his classic The Power of Positive Thinking, Peal stated:

“A sense of inadequacy interferes with the attainment of your hopes, but self-confidence leads to self-realization and achievement.”

Create for yourself the attitude of limitless partnering possibilities. It’s no secret that attitude can and will make the difference between partnering failure and success-and success is what you ultimately want! It’s easier than you think to get into the mindset of “I don’t care” or the “I can’t do it.” It’s your self-confidence that will allow you to become the optimal partner-the pentad I detailed last month will not be complete without you!

Roger Tompkins, former vice president California of State Farm Insurance stated, “Managers see people as essentially lazy, somewhat stupid, needing constant direction and prodding to get any work done. Theory Y managers, on the other hand, see people as essentially interested in being productive, ready to work, and to cooperate, (if shown the way and given the tools) and essentially self-starting.

As I think about how I have interacted with other associates of the State Farm Insurance Companies, both employees and agents, over the years, I realize I have viewed them through the Theory Y lens. As a result, our ‘Marketing Partnership’ concept and philosophy, which is so integral to the way we approach serving our customers in the marketplace, has always squared with my personal view of people.”

When you get caught in the drift of life and/or business, and you will, it’s your partners who will be there for you with strength, energy and enthusiasm to assist you in seeing new and unique solutions to your challenges. This is something on which you could never put a monetary value or price. What you can do is be an optimal partner and reciprocate when your partners, the others in your pentad, are in need. Your partnering alliances have a vested interest in your success, as you do in theirs.

To view your daily concerns, better yet-challenges, from a new perspective, requires that you shift your paradigms (beliefs, standards, or models). For successful partnering, you must challenge your paradigms and shift away from what is not serving you.

Look at it this way: when you look at a tall tree from 50 feet away through a standard 50mm camera lens you see a particular view, not all of the tree. Now change to a macro close-up lens and you see not much of anything. Now change to a wide-angle lens and you see just about all of it. What was different each time? The lens, your filter-each of us filters how the world truly is and that’s our reality. So, change your filter, your vision, and behold all the new possibilities.

To stretch your partnering muscles, try taking on a lens that a well-focused question provides. Ask yourself daily: “Would you enter into a partnering alliance with somebody like you?” If asked habitually, this question will help you to keep activities and decisions in the perspective of being the optimal partner. Ask daily: “Who do I now trust that may serve and be served as my partner?” A sign you might consider posting where it is quite visible: “Who’s My Partner Today?”

Successful Partnering Needs You

Successful partnering is not for every business and organization, because it takes you having the capability of being an optimal partner to know if partnering is right for your business. Reasons not to partner may include: You may simply view the world from a place of loss and negativity. You have the market cornered (but for how long), and enjoy the power position of calling all the shots. You may be a loner and prefer to go it alone. Maybe you’re even satisfied to make do with less. You may not desire to build a Successful Partnering Pentad, but let me warn you-you can’t be in business today without partnering to some degree. Maybe it’s partnering with your customers, maybe another area, but you simply cannot operate in a vacuum and survive. If you find yourself having the above negative conversations, find the strength to escape your perceived dungeons.

Platinum Partnering

Maybe you’ve heard it called the Platinum Rule, or The Golden Rule Expanded? I heard about this idea from Patricia Fripp in the mid-1980s. Whatever you call it, the concept is, to do unto others the way they would have you do unto them. To be the optimal partner you must see things as your partnering alliance members do, otherwise you’ll greatly diminish your possibilities. Think back to great leaders you’ve had the opportunity with which to interact–haven’t they made you comfortable around them? Sure they may have pushed you to achieve more, but that wouldn’t have been possible, had they not initially built rapport. They somehow have had the ability to get you to want to perform to your highest level of potential, and that’s successful partnering. The same is important for you if you want people and organizations to partner with you.

For Successful partnering, learn the skills to understand people, learn how to effectively communicate on their terms rather than yours. Anthony Robbins’ book, Unlimited Power, is essentially about creating more power within–allowing one to more effectively influence others through effective communications. Robbins says: “To me, success is the ongoing process of striving to become more. It is the opportunity to continually grow emotionally, socially, spiritually, physiologically, intellectually, and financially while contributing in some positive way to others. The road to success [or partnering] is always under construction. It is a progressive course, not an end to be reached.”

Dan McNamara, former senior vice president at Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America asserts, “Be sure you’re prepared to live the values you profess–your people will ‘hear’ what they ‘see,’ not what you say.”

In the Korean business culture the principle of Nunchi, the ability to look in someone’s eyes and understand, allows for a powerful nonverbal communication. Through this process, employees make decisions that reflect how their manager would expect them to decide. Nunchi also exists as a societal binder and is the reason given by some for Koreans’ less outgoing nature as compared to Westerners. As partnering relationships blossom, this further sense of deeper understanding and communication, becomes more real and less theoretical–assisting in alliance harmony. Study nunchi, if you can develop the sense, you will become the type of person to which others will gravitate–the optimal partner.

Ed Rigsbee, top speaker on Membership Growth

Successful Partnering with Contrarian Members (918 words)

If you are an organizational leader, and have been for any length of time, when the word contrarian comes up you see a particular person(s) in your mind’s eye. The words mal-content, disruptive, and pain-in-the-neck come to mind. But stop, I’d like to take a shot at changing your perception.

Admittedly, I am a Contrarian, with a capital “C” and quite frankly, am proud of it. Does that mean I embody all the above negative words associated with contrarians? Perhaps this is true to a few, but hopefully not to the masses. Contrarians simply see things differently and generally have the courage to buck the system—but rarely the patience to work within the (egregiously slow) system to make change.

Organizational Leaders’ Protectionism

Non-profit governance is generally a hybrid of paid and volunteer leaders. The paid leaders generally have a more bureaucratic mindset while the volunteer leaders frequently tend to be entrepreneurial. While this is an over simplification, I generally find it to be true. The two mindsets create healthy tension and generally guide the organization well.

The problem is when the volunteers and the paid leaders both have bureaucratic mindsets; they tend to fear growth, improvement, or change—preferring the status quo. Also, when leaders are not confident in their ability to lead due to newness of tenure, knowledge, or skills—saying no to everything is much safer that saying maybe, let alone yes.

Contrarianism Drivers

In order to successfully work with contrarians, one must first understand their mindset. These people sometimes disrupt simply for the sake of disruption but more often than not, it is to drive positive change and growth. This modality sees very different patterns, holes in your organization’s member value proposition, and is in a hurry for improvement. People that see the world contrary to the conventional are generally burning to make a difference and rarely are included in governing bodies because they are seen as too difficult.

When you as a leader take the time to get into the heads of contrarian members and see their perspective without the protectionism filters, you will discover an amazing world of new value propositions for your organization. Will it be easy—not on your life? This is because leaders that are in protectionism mode only see threats, bullying, and coercion as opposed to opportunity, innovation, and improvement.

Convergence through Communication

I recently had an amazing experience, the opportunity to present as the voice of contrarianism at the annual convention of ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership. I did this along with an association CEO (executive director) as the voice for organizational principle. What made it special is that we lectured on our actual partnership failures and successes spanning a decade and a half—and positively looking toward the future.

Feeling somewhat disenfranchised as a 10+ year member, I started a party group (Cigar PEG) years ago at the annual convention of the National Speakers Association (NSA)—which apparently was against the rules. At the time our executive director was very new in his job, and admittedly not overly confident. And to make things worse, the past, present, and future volunteer leadership was steeped in ultra-conservative protectionism—all except that particular year’s volunteer president. However, only one open-minded person was not enough to affect the tidal wave of fear.

While there was a modicum of mutual respect between myself and the association’s executive director throughout the years, in hind sight, communication was the determiner or good or poor relations. While both of us were quite culpable for the poor communication, as communication improved, so did the relationship. Sure, there was growth and confidence on the part of the executive director and age driven tolerance on my part, however communication was nevertheless the key.

Listen, Engage, and Utilize

Over the years the NSA executive director (later re-titled CEO) started realizing that my party group, that oddly enough became an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, was truly delivering high-level value to the organization by giving members one more reason to retain their membership and attend the annual convention. Consistently drawing 20% of the annual convention attendees to my party seemed to become more important over time. Eventually the leadership, paid and volunteer, realized that putting fewer roadblocks in front of the Cigar PEG paid off.

I believe the relationship turning point was when the leaders started truly listening to what the organization’s members were saying—we like the party and other activities around the Cigar PEG. Then the association started engaging; we developed and executed a partnership agreement that formalized relationship parameters. The utilization happened in many ways including the party and other events being listed along with other community groups in convention materials. Also the Cigar PEG became a default beta tester for the association—several activities tested and proven successful at the Cigar PEG became official NSA activities later. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the nearly $200,000 that, at the time of writing, the Cigar PEG had donated to the NSA Foundation’s Professional Speaker Benefit Fund—that helped also.

Never Say Never

Had someone a decade ago foretold that the NSA CEO and the Cigar PEG co-founder would be co-presenting at the ASAE annual convention—everyone in NSA would have laughed hysterically, or found themselves in mortal fear.  However spokespersons for the establishment and contrarians came together to share with association executives—that there is hope, that they too could build relationship bridges with their contrarian, dissident, disenfranchised, and mal-content members. So can you!