Extra Edition / Business Management

Leveraging Your Business Relationships

November 28, 2003
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Ed Rigsbee
Conducting business successfully has always been, and will always be, driven by relationships. While many claim relationships in business are dead and price is the only game, they are sadly mistaken. Today, more than ever before, business leaders must fill their skills toolbox with the knowledge and ability to leverage both casual and sustained relationships into more formal strategic alliance relationships.

Reasons for Alliance Relationships

Looking at the alliance possibilities, the leader of an organization must ask, "What's in it for my organization?" The answer to this question is that there are a number of benefits to any organization in building alliance relationships. First the leader must have a clear understanding of both the strength and weaknesses of their organization. Armed with this knowledge, the leader can look at potential alliance relationships to shore up the organizations weaknesses and share its strengths. Chapter one of my book, Developing Strategic Alliances, will give you a number of typical business alliances.

Total Organizational Partnering System

The Total Organizational Partnering System is a strategic approach in which the leader may view their organization. Also called the Partnering Pentad, there are five strategic areas for building internal and external alliance relationships. The five areas are: the leadership alliance, the employee alliance, the customer alliance, the supplier alliance, and strategic alliances (frequently with competitors). The system is the method in which all the areas interact with one another.

Alliance Implementation

In recent history, alliance relationships only enjoy success in the 50-percentile area. Much of the reasons for alliance success and failure revolve around the leader's implementation strategy. The need to drive alliance relationships from the top of any organization is crucial to the success of any attempted alliance relationships both internal and external to the organization. Eli Lilly and Company is a forerunner in alliance implementation. For more on their strategy, visit http://alliances.lilly.com. Additionally, visit my alliance resource page at www.rigsbee.com/allianceresources.htm. At this Web page, you will be able to access a number of organizations that are actively participating in helping organizations develop alliance relationships.

Developing Outrageously Successful Alliance Relationships

In all of the previously mentioned areas for developing alliance relationships, leaders can dramatically increase the potential for success by embracing and developing an emotional ownership in four necessary relationship tools. First, leaders must focus on getting things done, rather than on being right. Second, leaders must make relationship bank deposits before they attempt to make withdrawals. Third, leaders must maintain their integrity, especially in times of relationship conflict. Fourth, leaders should apply my Relationship Value Update Form for all alliance relationships. For a copy, e-mail your request to me at the address below (place in the subject box: RVU request).

Leaders Driving The Alliance Paradigm

In any organization, the culture is driven from the top down - never the bottom up. As goes the leadership, so goes the organization. In building outrageously successful alliance relationships, it is the same. The idea of leveraging relationships into formal alliances - doing so successfully and in a sustained manner - is built on the foundation of active leadership participation. Leaders always set the bar, benchmark, and tone.

Ed Rigsbee is a certified speaking professional and the author of PartnerShift, Developing Strategic Alliances, and The Art of Partnering. He can be reached at 800-839-1520 or EdRigsbee@aol.com. For additional information, visit his Partnering University Web site at www.rigsbee.com.

Publication date: 12/01/2003

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