How a Dominant Decision-Maker May Dominate the Direction of Your Business

There are 4 Business Partnering Styles that can have an impact on you and your business. 

This article focuses on The Dominant—Non-Dominant Relationship Style. At the end of this article you’ll find articles on the impacts of Business Partnerships With Undefined Roles, Unilateral Decision-Makers, and finally, the highly successful Big Picture Partner approach.

the dominant partner

One Primary Decision-Maker

A key feature of the Dominant—Non-Dominant relationship dynamic, is that one person is in charge and ultimately makes the final decisions. Typically this is a one-owner or business leader situation, where full responsibility falls on the shoulders of that individual. When carried into a business partnership, the Dominant—Non-Dominant dynamic may be a clearly stated agreement. In this case, it is an agreed-upon mindset or perspective from which all discussions are had, goals are set, decisions are made, action is laid out, and accountability is followed—achieving the end results, and the expectations of the dominant person.

Without such clarity, confusion may ensue.

  1. Domineering

When the “who’s in charge” question is apparent, theoretically differences, disagreement, or conflict would not arise nor be addressed. It would be clear that the dominant individual’s preferences take the lead. If we focus on power and productivity in day-to-day relating within a Dominant—Non-Dominant dynamic, it will be experienced as more autocratic when it is demanding or domineering in nature. Such leaders are referred to as dominating, bossy, or dictatorial. Sharing of ideas and information feels unwelcome or stilted. Respect is absent, trust is not built, nor is it possible under these conditions.

2. Capricious

Another version of day-to-day with a dominant leader is experienced as capricious. Without a clear focus, or a strategic plan thoughtfully shared with the business partner or other team, they appear to generate needs and demands arbitrarily, and change their decisions quickly and seemingly randomly. This relating-approach is so sporadic it often leads to great inefficiency and frustration. It can also lead to fear of failure in those around this unpredictable leader as there is no consistency or regard for individual capabilities or contributions.

3. Bait and Switch

In a healthy Dominant—Non-Dominant dynamic, a dominant leader may seek ideas and input from a business partner and others, in order to come to a decision. This can feel collaborative when it is done consciously and when there is a clear expectation the leader will make final decisions, no matter how excellent the input is. However, if the dominant individual is unaware of how they approach feedback, appearing to invite collaboration and participation, and if they and those around them are unconscious of how the dominant person ultimately makes decisions, such interactions will eventually feel like a bait and switch to those involved.

Entering into an ongoing business partnership or transitioning to a future partnership arrangement with a dominant leader of long experience can be challenging for all sides. The transition should be well thought out, roles defined, and consequences discussed—for the satisfaction of all parties involved.

Relinquishing Dominance and Rising to the Challenge of Leadership

It takes a growth mindset and great awareness for a company to grow from a Dominant approach to an Equal Partnership. It requires growth on both sides. Typically the more Dominant Leader is older and more senior in experience. They have built a legacy and hopefully wish to preserve and pass it on to those growing in the ranks. Knowing they have a career trajectory with an exit down the road, the senior leader may need help in devising ways to increase the experience of younger, less experienced colleagues so they grow into full partnership status.

At the same time, younger or less experienced future partners need to step into a plan for growth in partnership. This often involves taking on greater leadership with committees and presentations, as well as facing a fear of failure or making mistakes and learning from them. Knowing when and how to present new and never before tried ideas is also a sign of leadership desire.

Coaching Can Create a Safe Transition to Full Partnership for Both

Both leaders who have been fully “in-charge” and those wishing to grow into leadership expertise benefit. With the help of a skilled business coach for entrepreneurs—who also functions as a business transformation consultant—you can work toward a successful outcome—creating a safe environment for the Dominant Leader to step back and the Growing Leader to step up. Working together, learning new ways, and building support and trust with the best outcome of the business and legacy in mind.

If you are questioning how your relationships at work are impacting your career future or business outcomes, reach out and let us help you assess the best ways to proceed so you achieve the outcomes you desire.

No matter where you are in the development of your business or work relationships, take a look at 4 Times to Work with a Coach Skilled in Business Partnership Relationships if You Own or Are Starting a Business for thorough advice on when to seek guidance.

A transition is done with eyes-wide-open, in defined stages with an opportunity for each party to make conscious adjustments in the power dynamic around goal setting, decision-making, and communication needs to offer the greatest opportunity for a successful outcome.

This article is part of a series describing 4 Business Partnering Styles that can have an impact on you and your business.

Refer to the article published here to get a broad overview of these approaches.

  1. The first relationship style refers to The Dominant—Non-Dominant Relationship Style (1 of 4).
  2. Then I explore The Difficulties of Business Partnerships With Undefined Roles, (2 of 4) and the ramifications of this relationship approach. 
  3. This article focuses on Unilateral Decision-Makers (3 of 4). 
  4. The final article in this series will explore the Big Picture Partnering approach (4 of 4).

For more information please visit our Business Partner portal, then scroll down to find the following 2 white papers to download for free:

  • Business Partners: How Choice of Relationship Style Impacts the Success of Your Business
  • Business Partners: Tools to Make Decisions That Grow Your Business Together

Ready to assess your business and relationships? We’re ready to talk about your needs when you are.





Dr. Jan Hoistad
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