The role of a partner manager is to enable innovation, growth and competitive advantage through partnerships. That’s quite a tall order and implies quite a skill set to deliver.

There are defined skills, aptitudes and attitudes of a highly successful partner manager.  They are skilled at adapting to an ever-changing environment and operating in a world beyond the traditional organizational boundaries.  Their ability to collaborate is what provides them the relationship capital necessary for success. These skills are often considered ‘soft skills’ but in fact are ‘hard’ to master and are not easily quantified.

Some years ago I participated in a talent assessment study involving some 100+ alliance managers.  The study was conducted by Pearson Learning and the Society of Human Resource Managers.  The study published as ‘Today’s Alliance Professional…Tomorrow’s Strategic Leader” identified the work style characteristics of successful partner managers.   They included:

• Ability to lead and influence
• Willingness to take initiative with little or no supervision
• Strategic/global thinkers seeking and creating opportunities
• Capable of dealing with high levels of ambiguity
• Highly innovative, dynamic, creative, independent thinkers
• People-oriented with high empathy
• Highly cooperative, preferring to work in teams
• Effective at networking across organizational boundaries
• Apt to flex rules to get things done (likely to suffer in bureaucratic environments)

I know many hiring managers are thinking “do they have sales skills?” What I find fascinating about the list above, is that these are not operational or functional skills.  These are very sophisticated ‘soft’ skills and some personality inclinations. But all in all, partner managers as a group should look like a rich pool for leadership talent.

As an aside, I excel at the last one “apt to flex rules”.

Do you see yourself in this profile?