The c-level executives in your organization have an essential role in the success of business collaborations with other organizations. Ideally, you have one of your c-suite executives as a committed executive sponsor for your partnership.

The role of an executive sponsor

The executive sponsor has a role towards his counterpart in the partner organization, with whom the sponsor will need to build a relationship, build trust and work together. The role of an c-suite executive sponsor is broader than just building relationships and trust. The sponsor is your executive champion, he will be evangelizing the business collaboration to other executives in your organization. He or she provides strategic guidance and is the escalation point when the collaboration faces issues that cannot be overcome on the working levels in the partnership.

On the other hand, we see executives who are a bit too overenthusiastic and promise partnerships to peer c-level executives from other companies. These executives need to be guided and informed about best ways to create collaborations with other companies. They need to be pro-actively involved. That is your job as well!

Pro-actively involving your c-suite has several angles to it. Let’s highlight three of them:

Gain c-suite support

First, you need the support from your executives for your alliance and partnership strategy. Brief them on your plans and ask for their endorsement for the plans. Better yet, make them an ally and ask for their advice as well. There is a good chance that senior executives view business collaborations from a different angle in the organization than you do. Their advice is invaluable for fine-tuning and executing your plans.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Secondly, communicate, and inform your executives timely about the progress of your strategy. Communicate not only while forming a partnership, but also during execution of an existing partnership. While being in this phase of involving the executives, it might also be good to ask for their advice so now and then.

Pro-actively involve your c-suite

Thirdly, executives have a role in forming and managing business collaborations. Rather than them coming back with announcements of partnerships being made, you can “use” them in the creation phase. When your executive is already involved and supporting your partnership strategy, he will know who might be on the target list of being a prospective partner. Executives have their network and they meet other executives at events and trade shows. When your executive is thoroughly briefed, he is aware of the messages that should be vented or checked with the counterpart. This way he is already building a relationship and pro-actively obtaining executive support in the other organization, before the partnership is even being formed.

As a result of pro-actively involving your c-suite, you might see them come to you with questions if a company is a good partner for a business collaboration, rather than announcing partnerships as a result of a weekend barbecue.


Naturally, you need to balance when to involve and inform your executive and when not. When overloading them, it might backfire on you. In the right balance, your c-suite executive sponsor will be your best friends in creating business collaborations for your organization.

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