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. The first relationship style can be found here: The Dominant—Non-Dominant Relationship Style #1/4. Then I explore The Difficulties of Business Partnerships With Undefined Roles # 2/4 and the ramifications of this relationship approach.  Today’s article focuses on Unilateral Decision-Makers #3/4.  On Thursday I’ll publish the final article in this series and we’ll explore the Big Picture Partnering approach #4/4.

 

Unilateral Decision-Makers Typically Function Like Roommates

Unilateral Decision-Makers are initially attracted to what they perceive as one another’s equal competence, independence, and productivity. These are typically seen as complementary skill sets which advance their business. This is also a common default relating style among independent, educated, highly ambitious couples, who are sometimes couples in business together, running a home and an office together.

When this relationship is working, each partner typically feels energized, supported, and trusting of the work, the relationship and the business future. It’s fun!

Parallel Play

Having characteristics of entrepreneurs, these owners are focused on making their vision a reality. They each tend to have take-charge and in-control personalities. As a result, a major defining characteristic of Unilateral Decision-Maker owners is that they make decisions independent of one another. Often this is done with the best of intentions, assuming they will be in agreement, but without consciously taking their partner’s feedback into consideration. These Unilateral Decision-Maker individuals may appear to discuss, check-in, or consult with one another from time-to-time, or even on a regular basis. What they may or may not be aware of, is that they are working on parallel tracks. They really haven’t shared their thoughts, feeling, or made decisions together. They assent to one another’s decisions because they don’t disagree.

Taking Things for Granted

Now this separation of duties is necessary, and even important, for role definition, task assignment, and ultimate accountability to get things done. When this relationship style is working smoothly, these business partners feel like they are working “together.” In reality, they are unconsciously simply working “next to” and sometimes even “around” one another. They may or may not keep one another informed of their individual decisions on a consistent basis, and when this relationship feels good, it’s because they feel no need for input. Or they feel no need to give input. They are simply supporting a decision or action their associate has taken.

When this relationship style is working smoothly, these business partners feel like they are working “together.” In reality, they are unconsciously simply working “next to” and sometimes even “around” one another.

Business owners who end up in a Unilateral Decision-Making style often do not realize that it’s working well because of the very fact they are in agreement. What happens when they are not in agreement? When they discover differences in opinion? When they run into controversy or conflict?

Blindsided

Because Unilateral Decision-Makers fall into this style—meaning it’s not consciously chosen—when something arises, causing unexpected disagreement or conflict, they often feel blindsided and at worst, even betrayed. Their individual assumptions about how their associate will respond is challenged. They do not have the experience of working together through to a decision or face challenges together.

Lacking the skill set to work as a team, as “partners”—which requires they learn a new way of communicating—they either disengage, pushing the disagreements under the rug, or they end up in heated repetitive arguments that go nowhere.

Lacking the skill set to work as a team, as “partners”—which requires they learn a new way of communicating—they either disengage, pushing the disagreements under the rug, or they end up in heated repetitive arguments that go nowhere.

A fallback position is blaming one another for any problems that arise, which may eventually pervade an entire working relationship.

Without a mindset and skill set to work through differences as a team, owners in this relationship style often think privately about ending their working relationship. This negative attitude toward one another can trickle down to their employees, causing further confusion especially if employees feel caught in the middle or are inadvertently feel the need to take sides.

As is true in any relationship, learning a new way is important for the individuals and for the business to get unstuck. Outside help from a skilled coach for entrepreneurs, to shift their interpersonal mindset—paired with a new set of skill for discussion and decision-making together—is the choice they must face to give up individual control and shift to shared decision-making.

Guidance from a coach experienced in working with business partners, and applying the necessary tools and skills, can help these owners re-evaluate their core values together, consciously face their assumptions, reconsider what they want and need from the relationship to decide if it is aligned with the business objectives. In that new context they can begin to work together better with a whole new set of skills.

My long time experience with many unconscious Unilateral Decision Makers is that they really want to have a solid partnership relating style. Typically these business owners—be they strictly business partners or couples in business together—ultimately desire the same outcome, they want the same things. They want what brought them together in the first place. So they need additional tools and skills to help them balance areas of independence, with a partnering need for interdependence that facilitates the end results they desire.

With expert guidance from a business coach for entrepreneurs with skills in life coaching for business and personal relationships (if a couple,) these business partners can make the shift into the final style of relating and become very successful The Big Picture Partner Relationship Style 4/4. Read on!

 

Pitfalls to Running a Successful Business Together as Business Partners

Business Partners: The Dominant—Non-Dominant Relationship Style 1/4

Business Partnerships With Undefined Roles 2/4

Unilateral Decision-Making Relationship Style in Business Partnerships 3/4

The Big Picture Partner Relationship Style 4/4

Dr. Jan Hoistad

Business Coach for Entrepreneurs/Business Transformation Consultant/ Career Coach/Executive Coach Relationship Expert, Blogger, Author

When a business partnership is going well, it’s great. There’s energy, creativity, productivity. Differences put partnership stability to the test. Coming together as business partners pools connections, spreads financial risk, may increase the employee base, and expand the marketplace. Difference can feel like something resolvable together. But when experienced as threatening, it creates disconnection. If there is out-and-out conflict, a business partnership can quickly deteriorate and spread negativity like a virus throughout a team or company. Having the mindset, tools, and skills to navigate together is a necessity for a smooth functioning business and long-lasting partnership.  https://drjanhoistadpartners.com