Are you a supplier to or partner of your clients?

Had an interesting coaching session with a professional services client yesterday in which we discussed this question.

I’d never used Partick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team framework in the context of a ‘seller/buyer’ relationship before but found that it worked beautifully. Why wouldn’t it? If you are a partner of a client then surely you’re part of the team. And if you’re part of the team then all aspects of the framework apply.

Trust – as a partner, we have to demonstrate vulnerability rather than put up the ‘unassailable shield’. “this bit didn’t go right”, “we’ve struggled with…”

Conflict – as a partner, we need to enter dialogue in an adult-to-adult fashion rather that one of subservience. Alternative perspectives must be shared!

Commitment – as a partner, we must ensure we have agreement to a plan of action with clear accountability of who does what by when within the team.

Accountability – as a partner, we must do our bit and ensure everyone ‘client-side’ does theirs.

Results – we both need to know what we’re shooting for and how we’ll measure success. Vagueness of outcome will lead to confusion in the plan of action.

What do you think?