How to Revive Partnerships
Developing an inspiring vision and understanding and responding to changing group dynamics can revive partnerships that are short of energy or direction.
“A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.” Alvy Singer could just as well have been talking about partnerships. Partnerships have to evolve and develop and if they don’t, they just fade away into irrelevance, taking with them a lot of hopes and wasted investment.
So how can a dying shark relationship be brought back to health to continue its work? Obviously the most important thing is to get the patient off the (sea)bed and moving again – but how do you do this?
Like any lasting relationship there needs to be some vision of a shared future, not just a shared present; something to aim for that ideally brings hope and joy and lifts the soul away from the humdrum of everyday. In short, we need a shared dream.
Dreams come in small and large sizes but they must be motivating; and to be super-attractive they should be distinctive and unique. These are what we call ‘signature programmes’ and when we develop them with our clients they are easy to spot – by the fizz of excitement in the room. A key rule of selling dreams is that you too have to find them exciting, and help others to do so too.
But like relationships, it is also possible to revive partnerships by starting with a good bit of listening – something that is all too often forgotten. Assumptions and expectations can build up until they become quite divorced from reality, and we may feel that we are still listening when in fact we are just going through the motions. Things are left unsaid to avoid causing upset – and by not being addressed become more toxic.
Sometimes, as in relationship counselling in our personal lives, it takes an outsider to identify where it all started to go wrong – and to help us to put it right. For Powering Partnerships this means finding out what your partners wouldn’t want to say to your face, but is still really important; or probing a bit deeper to see how circumstances have changed and so how the focus of the partnership needs to change, or perhaps even be wound down, saving wasted effort and misunderstanding down the line.
Best of all we get to frame these impressions and feed them back to our clients, along with recommendations of how they could adapt their behaviour to breathe new life into those relationships – and start new ones on a fresher and more productive footing.
As in human relationships, showing that you have listened, and acted on what you have heard, can soften the hardest hearts and revive partnerships that could otherwise be written off.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help to revive your partnerships and start great new ones, do get in touch
 Alvy Singer was the hero in Annie Hall, a 1978 film which won four Oscars and had some of the most famous lines in romantic comedy.