Are you one of those women struggling to squeeze more into an already jammed packed life? Do you constantly find yourself saying “yes” more often than “no”? Do you think that if you work harder, sleep less, smile more and act tougher that perhaps eventually you will get there? If so, have you ever considered entering into a business partnership with a woman? If not, according to “Power Through Partnership – How Women Lead Better Together” (Power Through Partnership) by Betsy Polk and Maggie Ellis Chotas, perhaps you should.
The authors cite an impressive number of successful male partnerships that have had a significant impact of the world. Examples include ice cream entrepreneurs Ben and Jerry, explorers Lewis and Clark, famed magicians Penn and Teller, film producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and DNA discoverers James Watson and Francis Crick. Interestingly, when the authors searched Google for successful female partnerships, the search revealed Lucy and Ethel, Laverne and Shirley, Cagney and Lacey and Thelma and Louise. The problem with these female partnerships are that none were real. Despite this, after years of research, the authors were able to identify and interview 125 female partners. However, unlike the male partnerships listed above, none of these female partnerships had any immediate name recognition.
As a result of their research the authors identified several benefits of women partnership. These include:
- Flexibility: A major asset that allows one partner to step forward while the other leans back thus providing room for the roles within the partnership to shift as needed. Depending on the circumstances (such as when balancing job stress, adjusting for the dynamics during a client meeting or covering for one another when a child is sick), women in partnerships know how to step up or step back depending on what is needed at any given moment.
- Confidence: By partnering, women learn to assume confidence in themselves because their professional identity is closely tied to that of their partners.
- Freedom: Women in partnerships have access to the freedom that comes from working with someone who “gets it” because her partner has been operating in the same playing field, under the same unspoken rules and societal expectations. This shared understanding makes it easier for a woman to bring her entire self to work, knowing that in the company of a female peer there is no need to modify, adjust or apologize for who she really is. Such partnerships allow women to be themselves, whether brusque, emotional or otherwise.
- Steady support: Women partnerships often provide a fluid give-and-take way. With the give-and-take support of working with the right partner, women can discover that working together as equals can be a more effective and satisfying way of accomplishing goals.
- Mutual accountability: For women, knowing that someone is counting on you gives us the push we need to move past the so-called “imposter” syndrome to achieve results. Partners cannot give up on their dreams because these dreams are fueling the outcome of their partnership, and each partner is accountable to the other for seeing it through.
- Happiness: Occurs when, at its core, a relationship satisfies all partners. The authors cite Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, who wrote that women gain joy when they find a close connection and intimacy in relationship, and these are natural outcomes of the rich relationship, at the heart of healthy female collaborations. The authors argue that women do not need to be best friends or even friends to become successful business partners. Instead, female partnerships are more likely to succeed when partners like each other enough to invest trust, manage egos, and share control.
The authors provide three essentials for finding the right partner. These are: (1) complementary skills, talents and interests; (2) shared values; and (3) compatibility. According to the authors, partners can be found at a myriad of sources such as at work, on playgrounds, through matchmakers, in their own families and at schools. In fact, their research convinced them that there was no one “right” partner nor no one right way to “find” a partner.
As shown in Power Through Partnership¸ when women team up and combine their complementary skills, talents and interests, channel their egos and encourage one another, they can work as equals to achieve something that is so much greater than each can achieve alone.
This post was written by Lisa Mueller.