How to Empower Business Partnerships and Get Through “Sticky” Situations

Two heads are always better than one, but inevitably tensions will rise, and then it’s simply best to pause. Saying less and listening more will get you back on track to produce positive results faster.

In the past, I have written about Michael Bungay Stanier’s coaching approach as an excellent leadership method to use with teams (see my previous blog titled Wearing the Coach’s Hat). His techniques also work for OBMs when engaging with clients.

As partners in business, an OBM and the business owner will often navigate difficult conversations with teams and with each other. The objective is to push or pull through the troubles, misfortunes, and successes of business together!

An OBM is required to do the heavy lifting in business. The client relies on me to free up their schedules, enabling them to tackle the big ideas that keep the business profitable and growing. An OBM knows she is doing her job well when their client has more time to be the CEO, curating an endless stream of ideas.

If ideas are flowing freely and are asked to be acted upon, the time will come to face the client and say: This isn’t working. Here’s why, and I’d like to discuss how we can resolve this.

Let’s call these situations “sticky” and get our minds in the right place to tackle a conversation about change. Difficult conversations can feel arduous to some, but expressing a need to change is all that’s really happening. Whether business projects have crept far beyond their scope, or a client is pinging you on every platform at any time of the day, my role as a partner is to flex my OBM muscle and say: This isn’t working. Here’s why, and here’s what we can do to resolve this. 

If you find yourself frustrated, and running into repeated sticky situations with colleagues, before throwing in the towel try this:

Acknowledge you get it: You are different people. 

Ask for input and feedback: Listen to understand their perspective as it may shine a light on the solution.

Be specific and clear: It’s easier to water down a conflict and ease out of it, but this isn’t about you.

Share a sticky situation below, and talk us through the techniques you used to evolve into becoming stronger partners and leaders in business together!


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