• How important is a conductor’s role for an orchestra to play in tune?
  • How essential is oil to run an engine?
  • How crucial is the role of a bus driver for managing a bus route’s schedule?

Those are all questions with an obvious answer, aren’t they? There is a similar question around alliance management: How important is an alliance manager for the success of a partnership?

It might look like another obvious answer! Yet still, many people and companies overlook the essence of this type of role. Let’s make a comparison:

An alliance manager is like the bus driver above. The alliance manager makes sure the alliance arrives on schedule to its next milestone. The alliance manager is like the conductor too, making sure both organisations play in tune together. An alliance manager is like the oil in a car’s engine ensuring that everything runs smoothly between two (or more) organisations.

Is it an essential role? I would argue that it is the most crucial role for the success of an alliance!

Still it can be a somewhat invisible role. Successful alliance managers can do their work without really being noticed and shouldn’t mind not being in the direct spotlight when success appears.

Successful alliance managers are very well aware of this. They will manage their alliance both internally as well as with their partner. They will be the contact person for the alliance partner and do whatever is needed to make the alliance a success.

The alliance manager needs to have diplomatic skills; they lobby to align all parties and to keep them aligned. They need to have an entrepreneurial skill to develop new opportunities that many people don’t believe in yet. At the same time the alliance manager needs to be able to meet deadlines and keep the collaboration on course, while acting as the project manager. In addition, (and maybe even above all), the alliance manager needs to be a people person and a natural relationship-builder.

Being an alliance manager is quite a diverse role in many aspects. The role requires a lot from you, but brings you a lot too. Think about it, what other roles in an organisation allow you to see and learn from so many aspects of a business? On the other hand, it can also be quite a lonely role, as you are one of few and not everyone in your organisation will understand what you do.

Weighing up all the elements, I would say that alliance management is one of the best roles you can have in an organisation!

PS: Please remember to fill in this short 4 question survey about hiring alliance managers!

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