Making Partnerships Work : A Sensible Way Forward

Making partnerships work is actually a much more difficult proposition than it seems at first sight. This is because we tend to think that there is nothing much to it and that given the right mix of circumstances and personalities, it should not be too much of a challenge. The key words here are right mix of circumstances and personalities.

Much More Difficult Task

The reality, as many have come to discover, is that making partnerships work is actually a much more difficult challenge. This is because often the right mix of circumstances is not in place. In addition, dealing with different and difficult personalities is in itself a huge challenge.

This hidden agenda then becomes the main stumbling block to a partnership being successful in the long term.

All too often, some inexperienced and naive individuals remain blissfully unaware of the hidden agenda that some parties have. This hidden agenda then becomes the main stumbling block to a partnership being successful in the long term.

Tactics to Impede Any Progress

On the surface, these parties may appear to be cordial and in agreement but deep down they are not prepared to cooperate in the larger interest of say the soccer team, the coach cum manager and his team of assistants and the club management.

Often these non cooperative captains and a few senior players throw obstacles in the way and engage in a range of tactics meant to impede any progress whatsoever. These tactics may include causing delays, trotting out silly excuses without any conscience and bringing up petty matters. This happens despite the fact that there are many benefits to be derived from a successful partnership.

Honesty & Sincerity Needed

For any partnership to really work, all the two or three parties concerned, need to be honest, sincere and straightforward with each other.

Let us take, for example, the case of a soccer team. The three parties in the partnership are the coach cum manager and his team of assistants, the club management and the players. All three parties need to be on the same page as far as the progress and direction of the team is concerned. Other related parties are the fan club of the soccer team and the football association.

All of them are there, in the first instance, in the best interests of the game and its legion of faithful supporters. These are laudable objectives. Yet as so often is the case, some people are just not capable of being honest. These small minded individuals are keen to feverishly play silly delaying games and in the process obstruct the smooth workings of the coach, his team and the players.

Clear Separation of Roles

The club management is there for specific purposes. They are there to provide overall leadership, strategic direction and in addition financial support to the club and the team. They are not there to interfere with the day to day coaching / managing carried out by the coach cum manager. That is for the coach cum manager and his team to handle and rightly so.

The players are there to play the game to the best of their abilities and to give their all for the club in every game. They are also there to listen and work with the coach cum manager. A captain should provide leadership to the younger players. He should not try to call the shots. Prima donnas are, therefore, not tolerated in well managed clubs.

Non Cooperation, Resistance and Delays

However, for some newly set up teams and those that are being revitalised and groomed for greater heights, there is considerable and often covert resistance. This resistance comes from a few, small minded captains who somehow seem to think that this is all quite unnecessary and an intrusion into their sphere of control.

Eleanor Roosevelt, a famous US First Lady once remarked: “ No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.“

However much one has explained the situation to these individuals, there appears to be no reciprocity or even a willingness to work with the team. A grotesque and time consuming masquerade then continues unabated because the owners, although they have been informed, choose to bury their heads in the sand. They mistakenly believe that over time things will improve. This is a pipe dream!

With Consent From The Owners

Eleanor Roosevelt, a famous US First Lady once remarked: “ No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.“ I would like to take some liberty here and state: “ No one can carry on behaving in such a manner without your consent… implied or otherwise. “

Such is the case facing some teams. This is because the owners are unable or unwilling to come to grips with the reality of the situation and thereafter deal with in a timely, clinical and decisive manner. Prolonged dithering is, therefore, not an option!

A Sensible Way Forward

This is where sterling leadership is badly needed and called for.

Make attempts to sort out the matter and explain the purpose of the revitalisation of the team to the affected parties. Do it again and again if needed. But once that has been accomplished, if the non cooperation continues and delaying tactics are employed, it is time to take the bull by the horns.

Firm action has to be taken to stop the rot. A first step is to counsel the affected parties. There must be no compromise with individuals who stubbornly refuse to cooperate. They should be given a warning letter and told to buck up in no uncertain terms. If all such efforts fail, then it is time for the sack. The owners cannot remain indifferent if they are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the team and the game in general.

If and when a new captain is brought in, every effort must be made from the very start to ensure that he understands his role in the team. In addition, the candidate must be advised to work with the coach cum manager in a proactive and supportive manner. The coach cum manager is the undisputed boss, Sir Alex Ferguson style and there cannot be any other competing force to jeopardise the situation.

The captain should conduct himself in a befitting manner at all times and be someone who has a good understanding of basic professional and social courtesy. Once that is in place the stage is set for a proper, conducive and productive working relationship. This is the kind of partnership that can and will make good progress and thrive in the process.     

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