There’s an artistry to building coalition and creating partnering

An article I wrote on The Art of Building Coalition is posted at the Library of Professional Coaching and excerpted here:

There are numerous situations we face at work, whether as an entrepreneur, an employer, a manager, a leader, an employee or a member of a project team where we need to build coalition with others. The results we can produce depends on relationships that are effective and sufficient to the goals of the organization or project. These others with whom we need to build coalition may be colleagues, the board, co-workers, vendors, customers, peers, teammates or subordinates. Sometimes we need to build coalition to navigate a political minefield in our organization, sometimes it is to move a particular idea forward, sometimes it is to most effectively lead, manage, or motivate others. Below is a time-tested method for building coalition, creating a partnering relationship for whatever your purpose, so that you can increase your visibility, clean up a messy interpersonal scenario, create development opportunities for yourself or others, or simply expedite the results of any project or team you are working on.

Forming A Partnering Relationship: Guidelines For A Possible Dialogue

The guidelines below set up the actions you might consider taking to step-by-step build coalition. Know your reasons before you start. With whom do you want to have this conversation and why? What is your goal in creating coalition with this person,
specifically? The answer to those questions may not be communicated to the other
person, but are useful for you in determining the importance of the conversation, the
timing or urgency of the conversation, and how you will measure your results.

THE SET-UP — Creating a safe environment

Clearly establish for yourself the purpose for partnering with the other person. What do you have to offer them? How would you like them to support/help you?
Check in with yourself to determine your readiness and willingness to be open,
honest, vulnerable. Let your guard down; be prepared to tell your truth and speak
your mind, particularly if there has been any conflict in the past with this person.
Depending on the person or the situation…
1. Take that person out of the office to a neutral location such as a restaurant or a
park or take a walk. If appropriate, a local pub is a casual setting conducive to
2. Take him or her on a coffee break in or out of the building.
3. Ask him or her to join you for lunch in the cafeteria.
4. Go to that person’s office or work area if it is private (not a cubicle).
5. If it can’t be done face-to-face, if you are in a virtual organization with farflung
global colleagues, this can be managed by phone, but will require setting
up a special time to talk without other distractions. You’ll need to request that
the other person not multitask so that they can be present to the conversation.
This may actually require asking that they specifically shut down their email,
IM, and Blackberry.
Set up enough time to have a conversation about partnership, usually a minimum of an hour. (By “partnership” I mean a mutually beneficial working relationship.)
Get that person’s permission to have the conversation after you brief them on what it will be about. Tell them you want to discuss the possibility of forming a committed relationship or a partnership with them and ask if they will talk with you about it.
Schedule a specific date and time to have that conversation. Make any agendas you may have explicit and transparent to the other person so they know what to expect and can be prepared to discuss and share their thoughts.

PART ONE — Expressing commitment


Leave a comment