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Alliances develop future leaders


Technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation will drive dramatic change in how we work and a disruptive shift in the skills needed to lead. However, there are unique human cognitive capabilities that machines will simply not be able to replicate, and these are especially relevant in the world of corporate alliances.

As companies move to make processes more automated, the real difference maker will be the value of engaging with partners. There is a greater need to connect with others, display empathy and understanding, and convey emotions. That means human skills and emotional intelligence are becoming even more important.

Companies will need to concentrate on developing these skills to be successful. Developing soft skills can be a challenge and it requires investment and proper training. Ideally, you want to groom employees from within your organization so they can help support a culture that values emotional intelligence.

Alliance executives must manage stakeholders from a range of areas, including colleagues, vendors, partners, and executives at all levels in different companies. It means getting people who don’t report to you to work together to get things delivered. It is a delicate balance.

Being driven, agile, open, patient, understanding, and convincing are all requirements to work for alliance partners. People in this space need to work with others who do not directly report to them to agree and work on tasks and goals. It can be a real challenge.

Culture is another consideration. Different companies bring different attributes and working with partners means meshing these sometimes-disparate entities together and finding ways to maximize the output and outcomes by using the strength of both sides. It may take time to bring focus to a partnership, but solid internal alignment leads to strong commitments and a singular drive to achieve goals.

The tone of the partnership is set by alliance executives. The behavior exhibited by each partner really forms the basis of the relationship and reflects in all of the projects. Trust, openness, care, empathy, and ability to communicate are all part of the equation.

I think Fred Hassan, CEO of Schering-Plough, said it best:

“Alliances require ways of working with partners that are very different from what is required in traditional business relationships. The future will belong to those companies that embed alliance management capabilities into the fabric of their culture and how they do business.”

Working with partners develops key skills companies need for the connected enterprise. There is a real talent to being able to work with people outside of the organization and deliver results.