The alliance manager has an often misunderstood profession. I have met many people who didn’t understand the profession or didn’t even see it as a separate profession. This also shows on my website. Over the past 9 years the search term “alliance manager” is by far the most searched keyword.
So, what is an alliance manager?
I would almost start answering that question with “it depends.” Many answers to questions in alliance management start with these two words. That is because every alliance is different. The partners will be different, and the purpose will be different. However, the role of an alliance manager is similar in all alliances.
I often explain alliance management by comparing it to being a conductor in an orchestra. The role of a conductor is to unify the performers and to ensure the orchestra plays in tune. Similarly, an alliance manager will need to unify the alliance partners and their team members. He or she will need to ensure that these performers play in tune.
Diplomat and lobbyist
The alliance manager might need to be more of a diplomat than a conductor needs to be. The role, in general, has no hierarchical connections with the performers in an alliance. To get things done, the alliance professional needs to gain buy-in from colleagues and alliance partners by persuasion and by winning them for the greater purpose of the alliance. Diplomacy and lobbying will be useful skills in alliance management.
A conductor will need to be a critical listener to understand the performance of the orchestra. The alliance manager will also need to “listen” to the performance of the alliance teams. With listening comes understanding. From that perspective, he or she needs to be an analyst, analyzing the information that comes to him or her from the alliance stakeholders.
Where a conductor sets the tempo for the orchestra and orchestrates the execution of the music, the alliance professional needs to orchestrate the execution of the strategy of the alliance. It is, however, not just about executing the strategy. It is also about suggesting adjustments to the strategy, when the alliance developments require so.
To understand what is going on in the performance of the orchestra, a conductor needs to have excellent musical skills. Similarly, to understand what is going on, the alliance professional needs to have the skills of a business manager. Financial insight, business insight, and depending of the type of the alliance also sales insight and negotiation skills. The alliance professional might even need to be a more all-round business manager than a business general manager is.
Being in alliance management is one of the most rewarding roles to have. The skills mentioned above are just a few of the skills alliance professionals needs to master. During an Alliance Masterclass, we will discuss many more of the upsides, characteristics, and skills of the role. Also, we will provide many practical tools to make the life of an alliance manager even more successful and pleasurable. Working with an alliance coach can help you go even deeper on a personal level and grow and improve fast as an alliance specialist.