Leadership is a broad term that can mean many things to many people. To make it even more complex when talking about leadership in alliances & partnerships it can refer to many elements. People can refer to the fact that you are a great alliance leader or to the fact that your company is on the forefront of alliance leadership. Some may feel that the executive sponsor is the alliance leader while others may mix up the terms leadership and management. A successful alliance will need management, executive sponsorship and leadership.
In general the role of an alliance manager is to make sure the alliance is on track to deliver what it promised to deliver. The alliance manager will use processes and tools to accomplish his task and will need to have a very large focus on the relationship, both internally in his own organization as externally to the partner.
For an alliance to be successful executive sponsors in both organizations on a similar level or role need to build a relationship. They need work together and build trust. The role of an executive sponsor is broader than just building a relationship and trust. The executive sponsor is the executive champion, evangelizing the alliance to other executives. He or she will provide strategic guidance and will assist in organizational navigation when barriers need to be overcome.
Neither of these descriptions contains the word leadership and still both need to be leaders and express leadership. From that perspective I like the way Robin Sharma describes leadership:
“Leadership is not about position, leadership is about passion. Leadership is not about title; leadership is about the depth of your commitment. Leadership is not about your rank; leadership is about influence and impact. No matter what you do within an organization, you can do each of those things well.”
Now, when we put that in the perspective of alliances you will see that regardless of your role in the alliance there needs to be personal leadership involved. Whether you are an alliance manager, an executive sponsor or from an other perspective involved in the alliance, on every level we will need to bring passion and commitment into an alliance. Especially in alliances we see that there is much about influence in order to make impact with the alliance striving for a meaningful result. “No matter what you do in the alliance, you can do all of those things well”.
When you do all these things well it will bring you closer to excellence in alliances.
Do you have a clear view on all stakeholders in your alliances? Do you have all these ducks in a row?