Leadership in a collaborative partnership network is very different than leadership in a company or a large organization. As I’ve previously discussed, leadership in a collaborative partnership is given by the partners within your network and should only be given for a specific initiative and for a predetermined period of time. In the case of an initiative this predetermined period of time would be the length of the initiative. The partnership network must come together to elect, or select, a leader based on the consensus of the impacted or participating partners. The partnership network, in other words, is a federation of members that elects a leader for the purpose of a specific action rather than a specific leader of the partnership guiding for the life of the partnership.
This concept is critical to the life and longevity of the partnership network because it encourages the members to participate. This concept of leadership by selection is quite different than the organizational leadership model which is more command and control. This is a hurdle that must be overcome or it will lead to class from partners that can destroy the partnership. The partnership network and members must also understand that this concept is can be so foreign to members that is will cause them to drop out of the partnership network. I see this concept as the most difficult for some members to embrace and a leading cause of failure of the partnership network.
I see this concept of elected and limited leadership having the potential to profoundly impact the currently accepted business leadership model by opening the leadership up to more open evaluation or at least more open question of authority. If a partner member enters into the collaborative partnership network with the unspoken belief that they are the leader of the network, or that their views and priorities are more important than other members in the network they will quickly have problems with the network and most likely leave the partnership network. I think the interesting point is that the network will quickly help members to define and even enforce the requirements of partnership over a network of service providers.
The network will gain and reap the value from developing the robust partnership relationship that is encouraged by the network and the members that do not embrace the partnership model will at a minimum not achieve the same value and most likely eventually leave the network, either by their own decision or invitation from the other network members. This is comparative to building a team and going through through the storming phase of team building. This is a necessary step in developing the partner network and everyone must understand from the beginning that there will be conflict that must be overcome to achieve the potential of the network.
There will be additional ramifications of developing the this type of partnership network a relating to business leadership. The question is how will this impact the current business leadership paradigm?
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
Have you discussed definition and measurement of standard metrics with your collaborative partners? What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation? Have you incorporated a standard that your metrics can support across the partnership network?