Becoming the Best Partner
Building a world-class organization with values-based leadership is a process. The first two steps are becoming your best self and forging best teams. Now we move to the next stage, bringing together best partners. (In upcoming blogs we will discuss best citizen and best investment, the last of the “five bests” that I describe in my latest book, Becoming the Best: Build a World-Class Organization through Values-Based Leadership). With best partnerships we realize that we can’t do business alone. In order to be successful, we need to expand our internal “best team” to include external “best partner.”
An organization can only attract best partners if it is capable of doing business that is mutually beneficial on a long-term basis. This means having values and business practices that appeal to the kinds of partners who will be strategically aligned to the organization and its mission of satisfying customers. Best partners are always customer-centered and committed to collaboration to make a meaningful difference in the marketplace.
Best partnership goes far beyond a legal relationship, just as marriage is more than two people whose names are affixed on a marriage license. A best partnership requires a holistic approach in which parties create win-win relationships across the value chain, from idea origination to product development.
With a best partnership, all parties know what the other is trying to accomplish now and in the future. Transactions are not merely focused on price—a win-lose dynamic in which one party usually is trying to get the most out of the other. While still competitive, best partnerships are win-win scenarios that stress the benefit of an extended relationship. In other words, a best partnership does not exist merely for one transaction. It is a strategic and long-term arrangement that pursues mutual ways in which both parties can be extremely successful.
Best partnerships can exist between a variety of partners. For example, an organization and its suppliers can become best partners, aligned on enhancing the experience and satisfaction of the end user. An organization can also forge a best partnership with its customers, for example to expand joint efforts around development of products and services.
In every case, a high level of communication and understanding must exist to build trust and preserve confidentiality. Otherwise, one or the other will be guarded, which will impede collaboration. With trust and integrity, however, parties can truly be their best as they cooperate and innovate—sometimes to the point that they merge or one acquires the other. When that happens, best partnership lays the groundwork for successful integration.
Best partnership strives for success for all. Bringing together two or more parties that are committed to being their best can heighten performance, differentiate products and services in the marketplace, and improve the value proposition. In the process, transformation occurs, with a new paradigm of best partnership.