The Singular Attribute That Will Predict A Leader’s Ability To Partner


All organisations – start-ups or long-standing blue chip companies – would state that collaboration is key to their success. Increasing shareholder value, raising seed capital, or launching an IPO all depends upon great partnering.

The ability to partner successfully can be hampered sometimes, by the race to the finish line. Leaders are advised to make their mark, differentiate themselves, and find unique ways to add value. At the same time, these aspirational goals must be displayed within the context of a collective team. After all, no singular person is responsible for the success or failure of an organisation.

Successful leaders should be recognised for their contribution. Many leaders attest to the belief they are exemplary at partnering. They purport many examples where they claim to be inclusive, provide latitude and collaborate on joint initiatives.

We can measure a leader’s ability to partner, collaborate and be inclusive. There are assessments that do just that. Respecting and supporting diversity of thought is also critical in all leaders.

The one single attribute that is a dead give away regarding partnering is humility. To what extent does a leader truly believe that they are not the smartest person in the room. Ask yourself; does the word humble describe their leadership brand?

Many leaders do vet opinions but in reality, are just play-acting. In other words, they give the façade that they care about other views when, in reality, they will land exactly where they started. Guess what? They were right all along and still have the best and only solution.

Leadership assessments aren’t required to assess humility. It is the very essence of one’s DNA. Being humble is part of one’s value set and character. On the job behaviour is the true reveal.

Here’s how we know. Leaders who can pivot enter a dialogue with the right intent. The intent to drive for the truth. This means they recognise that they just have one point of view. Yes, this point of view is based upon experience, seasoning, business acumen, and gut. But having guts means doing the right thing. The right thing may require a shift in direction that differs from the original plan.

If you enter a room with the perspective that you are offering one angle or one perspective, you will be open to having your perspective shifted or enhanced. This means more than openness; this actually means you might be wrong. There might be better or more robust solutions.

The opposite of humility is arrogance. Leaders do need a healthy dose of arrogance. A strong belief in themselves has enabled successful leaders to drive forward even when popular opinion states otherwise.

Arrogance is a lever to allow a leader to be compelling and offer a powerful vision. After all, we need to inspire others to be part of the grand vision. Various stakeholders need to be convinced of the merit of the idea, especially if it involves risk or transformation.

I have the great privilege of working with senior executives from many different industry sectors. Leaders that we can truly call stars exhibit humility in spades. They have earned tremendous respect for attracting talent, building teams and creating a culture of diversity. Diversity of race, gender, religion, and thought.

These leaders are motivated to add value through others. They will profile not just their direct reports, but their peers as well; even when peers might have competing agendas. Being humble is tantamount to being inclusive.

Step back and ask yourself if you, as a leader, have a healthy dose of humility. If you are all about ego, it will catch up with you. You will only go so far in your career. You will plateau.

Humility is the gateway to a leader’s success at the most senior levels. Leaders who have too much ego and not enough humility will, unfortunately, derail or present as an organisational liability.

So ask those around you if they perceive you as humble. You will know in three seconds flat. If they pause or display awkward body language, you have homework to do.

Leaders who are truly humble are recognised immediately for this attribute. Think about those leaders in your world who are humble, do they not bring about an instant smile to your face? We all know who those leaders are, and we all know they have important, long-standing currency for their organisation.