Learning to lead with value requires some tough questions: Are you a territorial leader, thinking only of your own agenda? Have you worked to align your organizational value system or are you and your partners siloed in your efforts? Do you fear the thought of partnerships with others?
I know from experience that partnerships are important in order to create synergy between where you are and where you want to be. Having these aligned partnerships – aligned in goals, in motivation and, most importantly, in values – allow you to accelerate your personal and professional growth exponentially. So what gets in the way?
In a recent VIP Coaching session, I made a CEO cry in fear when I mentioned the word partnership to her. I simply asked, "Who do you need to partner with to help you make your vision come to life?" She looked at me in a panic. She had some deep rooted issues with bringing a partner into her business because when she hears the word partner, she thinks about failed romantic relationships.
So, in our time together, we dug into it a little deeper. I asked, "what do you fear the most about partnering with someone in your vision?" She said, "Loss of Control." I quickly reminded her that we had identified earlier in the session that her zone of genius was to create, map out training courses, build people up and empower them to stand in their greatness. She produces coaching programs for women to take the stage and find power in their story.
I asked her if you were to do what you are passionate about every day, and be the top brand ambassador for your business, what are the things in your daily activities that need to be delegated? She listed them out. Then I asked, if you found an operational partner that is as passionate about your brand, your vision, your true calling as you are, and walked alongside you to take on all the tasks that you are not meant to put your time against, can you picture who that person would need to be in order for you to trust them with partnering in your business as your head of operations?
That is when she cried.
That is when she realized that her vision of this partner perfectly matched the person she had already been working with to start picking up the parts of her business and that this person was the fit to grow her business with. That was the partnership that she needed to be more effective as a leader in her business and help her vision come to fruition.
I share this with you to show you two things:
#1 – The fear of letting people in to walk alongside you and share their skills to help your business grow has nothing to do with who they are but has everything to do with how you articulate your vision and desire for them to step into it in order to succeed as partners.
#2 – If you don't take the time to truly understand your zone of genius and known gaps in the skills you need across your leadership team as you grow in your career and lead your business, you are the reason things feel stale and no longer growing - it's because you are not growing yourself. Finding partners to bounce off, to share ideas, to fill the gaps in your leadership team will help you find that magic.
Finding ways to lean on others to grow is a true partnership. They don't have to be equity partners to be partnered in your business. They need to be willing partners to help grow the business you are building, and fill in the gap for you to shine in your path, as they desire to shine in theirs. Imagine the energy that is created when two geniuses come together for a common goal, and partner together to make it happen. The diverse thought, knowledge and skill set is leveraged and exponentially helps the team, the clients, and the products and services you offer to grow.
Working together and pooling your abilities to reach the win results in a thriving organization. This means your partnerships need to be ones where conduct business is conducted based on value, and the value exchange system of your organization needs to be aligned. Imagine all coming to the table with a clear understanding of the values you all lead with. Cohesive collaboration in step with an organizational value system is where growth happens.
Here’s a summary of an exercise to help you see if the organizational value exchange system is right for you if it will facilitate your personal and professional growth – see it in more detail in my book Lead With Value. It’s a retrospective run with leadership teams to identify what is going well and what you need to stop doing.
#1 – Introduce the exercise and lay out some ground rules. Tell them you’re doing this to assess how you’re doing as a Value Exchange Leadership™ group and that all input is accepted, welcomed and not judged.
#2 – What is going well. Ask your group: What does our organization do really well? The group write suggestions on small Post-its and add them to a large Post-it on the wall with a smiley face. Don’t review until stage 4.
#3 – What we need to stop doing. Ask the group: What does our organization need to stop doing that hinders us? The group places their small Post-its on the wall with a large Post-it with a sad face.
#4 – The facilitator reviews what has been written. Each member votes on the top three things they do well and the top three things they believe should stop by putting a line or dot on the Post-its. Pull the top three from the Support and Hinder lists and place them on a new large Post-it.
#5 – What we need to start doing. The team writes down three proposals or actions to take to increase value exchange performance. Place these on the large Delta Post-it.
#6 – Review and action plan. Read the solutions out loud and the group votes on the top three. Read out the top three voted solutions and find people to lead the change. A leader should volunteer to own the card and the change – this is how you will see action be taken. Have each leader who ‘owned’ a card write down one action and a ‘by when’ date.
#7 – Thank you to participants and document contributions for meeting notes.
This exercise offers you valuable insight into your organization, the leadership system and your own role within these. Change and growth happen when partners’ values are articulated and aligned. A Value Exchange Leadership™ group focuses on progress and improvement – be a driving force for this.
It increases your leadership effectiveness when you can identify where you shine, and where you block the growth for yourself and others in your business. It helps create an opening for partnership. It also helps you identify when you have outgrown certain roles and discover it is time to exit and allow others to step in so you can move into the next level. Who are you partnered with? How has partnering with others impacted your life? Are you harboring an old story of failure that is keeping you closed off from another person's zone of genius to partner with you and help you grow?
Once you’ve opened the door to the partnership, you can focus on the value-based dialogue that will lead to professional growth for both of you. Articulate what you have to offer, what you desire and add in the lens of what your partners will receive. Value exchange partnerships push you to your ultimate leadership level, help you evolve your business and give you someone to walk beside you to achieve your mission.
Value exchange is how we grow, personally and professionally. Partnerships get the job done, fast!