Leading by Two – How Do You Identify a Strong Partner

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Cathy Raines, an organizational development expert at the State Department, thoughtfully challenged my post last week about how military heroes seldom act in a solitary way, but instead depend heavily on LeadingX2. She asked the two-part question:  “What’s a step I can take and with whom as my partner/buddy?”  I answer them in reverse order.

My short answer to “with whom?”  Know your greatest natural challenge and find your greatest complementary match.  Although I try to stay away from politics, I see President Trump and Vice President Pence as this type of complementary match. The former is a risk-taker, historically non-partisan, highly malleable to create a deal, quite willing to wield power firmly, and profane. Pence is anything but these; he is predictable, ideological, straight-laced, and even-keeled.  Great partners in LX2 engage and exploit their differences. I make no judgment on whether that is happening between these two.

Perhaps closer to home, you might consider complementary pairings like:

  • risk-embracing vs. risk-averse
  • younger vs. older
  • insider vs. outsider,
  • numbers person vs. word-crafter, or you could also look at:
  • The Myers-Briggs poles:
    • outgoing vs. reflective
    • big picture vs. detailed
    • relationship-oriented vs. task-oriented
    • discoverer vs. decider

Through difference, we both expand our reach, and we also can learn to develop in areas we are less strong.  My wife, for example, plans, executes and finishes, and complements me in my tendencies to improvise, create, take a second look. Yet, I can see that sometimes I really need to “be like Jen.”

Cathy’s other question was “what’s a step I can take?”  Here, I would say simply: Invite a relationship.  Ask them for their input.  Or invite them into a project. Or ask if they’d be interested in your help, where you think you can contribute and you would like to simultaneously learn.  For example, my eyes are peeled these days for a strong linear thinker and executor.  I have ideas aplenty and I get inspired and can inspire others with ideas.  But prioritizing and building a step-by-step plan…well, it’s is as if I just don’t have those chips in my brain. Someone with those skills can do great things with me, as we both

Lead with our best selves.