Sole Trader. Self employed. One-man band. Just some of the terms used to define my role. And indeed, as a Management Consultant much of my time is spent on my lonesome. Long days and evenings spent on my tod surrounded by inspiration from dead artists, inspiring books and Jack Daniels.
However, even we lone wolves often work in partnership with others. An arrangement, which on the surface of it, seems simple enough. Two skilled people, both with good knowledge of their subject, passionate about helping others learn – it should really all go oh so smooth.
A great double act can make you chortle, think Morcambe and Wise. A successful twosome can make you sing naaah, nah, nah, nala, naaah, nala, naaah like Lennon and McCartney, or and may even make you swear profusely at the television, like Ant and Dec. Like ‘em, or loathe them, all of these successful partnerships have a blend as well mastered as a fine golden Malt Whisky.
At one time or another we singletons simply must work in partnership with others. This can be to design content, to co-deliver, or simply to work in tandem to complete a project. All of these callings need a somewhat different discipline than that used on our ownio. Moving from me to we isn’t and needn’t always be in perfect harmony.
Selfless vs Selfish
Sometimes the little quirks or stories that our partner may use are be somewhat different from those we use ourselves. I recall working in partnership with someone at an event and they lost their voice. The selfish approach would have been to run the show. The selfless solution was to turn each of her speaker slots into a combination of charades and hangman. All done in good humour and with memorable diversification from more mundane delivery style. If I’d tried this style solo, I’d have come across as a bit of a weirdo.
Opposites attract or detract
Some of the Beatles classics, like John Lennon’s dreamy Strawberry Fields Forever or Macca’s anthemic Yesterday would not have recorded if both writers were identikits of one another. Double acts often work well exactly because they offer something different to each other – the short one to the tall one, the funny one to the straight one, the straight one to the camp one.
A common understanding between both halves of a double act is not the same thing as similar style; you’ll need to factor that in if you’re doing the matchmaking. If you yourself have the option of picking a partner do consider values and blends, but don’t get lost in the fog of ‘they’re just like me’. Think of your tag team as the perfect consultancy cocktail.
It’s not you, it’s me
If you really feel that working with a particular other is missing that magic, then be honest, but please be authentic. Remember it’s your reputation, your business and it’s the client who’ll observe the disconnection. When you’re travelling solo it can sometimes be simpler to deliver a successful solution. When you’re performing as one half of a duet, just remember it is both you and me that determines its success.
PS – Paul McCartney’s solo career should be testimony alone to value of working in partnership. The Frog Chorus, I mean, c’mon?