Many people automatically think of leaders as isolated individuals. That’s got a kernel of truth, even in our digital, collaborative age.
Of course, leaders, by definition, don’t work alone. One of the most interesting models is the partnership. Many people have achieved excellence serving as leaders and partners.
The most effective partnerships bring together diverse, divergent talent. The results of the combination can be striking, creating something distinct–and demonstrably more valuable–than the sum of the parts.
Extraordinary partnerships–of individuals and/or organizations–don’t just happen. They can call upon management and leadership skills of the first order.
Lennon and McCartney | Leaders and Partners
The Beatles’ extraordinary innovation, productivity, and financial success has prompted study and emulation in various fields. Steve Jobs famously went to school on John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s extraordinary partnership.
Singer and songwriter Billy Joel recently told the New York Times: “I idolized [Lennon and McCartney} equally. I didn’t really delineate who was writing the lyrics and who was writing the melody. I assumed it was a collaboration. When Paul would get too sweet, John would kind of sour it down, and when Paul was at a loss for a lyric, John would throw something in offhand that was sardonic. I loved the combination of the both of them.”
Among the lessons of the Lennon-McCartney partnership:
—Lennon selected McCartney. He recognized talent. At least as importantly, he was willing to join forces with someone whom he recognized as being at least as talented as himself.
—Lennon and McCartney shared a vision of their lives and work. They were both willing to go all-in. Unlike many rockers who kept their day jobs, the Beatles were putting everything into their music. They created the stimulation of having nothing to fall back upon.
—Lennon and McCartney’s memorable vocal harmonies aptly represent their capacity to create a result that was distinct from their individual temperaments and talents. Their differences helped make the result extraordinary.
—Lennon and McCartney were personally highly competitive. They were not only competitive as a team facing out. They constantly challenged one another. They were able to contain this within a durable friendship.
—The Lennon and McCartney partnership was at once the foundation and the core of the Beatles. Lennon’s early leadership of the band was yielded over time to McCartney. The acrimony of their final years should not distract one from the fundamental achievement of a partnership that lasted for a dozen years, moving from a school dance to transform popular culture worldwide.
If the Beatles can be viewed as significant leaders–and they should–it’s in large part the result of Lennon and McCartney’s memorable partnership.
What About You?
Are you able to create effective partnerships? Do you do so as an individual, as well as part of an organization?
Are you using 21st century technologies to extend your range of potential partners? Are you open to partnering in more settings than in the past?
Do you do the work to identify and join with partners possessing complementary skills sets? Do you seek out those who differ from you in ways that can make a day-to-day difference?
Are you willing to do the work of leading and managing partners? Are you learning and growing and adapting through the process?
Leadership and Partnership