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Toward a Partnering Mindset


Recently I found myself in a discussion with several colleagues about what it takes to "partner well" in China.

A generous spirit was at the top of the list. Those who collaborate well with others are usually those who are willing to make available resources, ideas, relationships, and opportunities for the good of the community, whether or not the benefits accrue directly to themselves or to their organization. This generosity tends to engender more of the same, as other potential partners follow the example of the one who is generous.

A related characteristic is an awareness of the gifts one has to offer. This awareness results in a sense of stewardshipthe realization that these gifts are meant to be shared. (The opposite is a false humility, which assumes one does not have anything of value to share.)

The gifts to be shared can include learning. Organizations that partner well are not selfish with lessons they have learned but are eager to share these (including the hard lessons about what does not work).

Affirming the gifts of others goes along with a healthy awareness of one's own gifts. Those who partner well have realized that they and their organizations are not self-sufficient, but are meant to work in interdependence with others. Aware of their own shortcomings, they are thus on the lookout for partners whose gifts compliment their own, and vice-versa. Instead of seeing organizational capabilities in a competitive sense, they delight in bringing wholeness to the community through partnering.

Listening is another characteristic of those who partner well. Rather than trying to "sell" others on their own agenda, they are instead attuned to what they can learn from others. Although they have a clear mission and are true to their own convictions, they also have the humility to recognize that their agenda is but one small part of a larger picture. This larger contextand their place in itbecomes clearer as they hear from others.

Trust is essential to effective partnering, as is handling conflict in an effective manner. Both involve risk-taking and vulnerability, and both improve with practice.

Relationship, not structure is at the heart of effective partnering. Those who partner well value the action of working together more than they value the organizational structures within which they work. It is their commitment to one another, rather than to the structures, that keeps them together. They are willing to work outside established structures or even create new ones for the sake of their common vision.

Shared success is one of the fruits of effective partnering as well as a characteristic of those who do it well. They are not quick to take personal credit when things go well (or to point the finger at others when they don't). Rather they delight in celebrating together those victories which they could have never won by themselves.

For more from Brent, tune into Faith Radio today, Tuesday August 12 at noon (CDT) on Twin Cities Christian radio 98.5 KTIS. Brent will be Faith Radio host Neil Stavem's guest and they will discuss China's Next Generation, which Brent co-wrote last year with Luis Bush.

If you're not able to tune in by radio you can stream the interview live on the Faith Radio Website. (Click the green "Listen Live" arrow at the top.)

Recently a found myself in a discussion with several colleagues about what it takes to partner well in China.

A generous spirit was at the top of the list. Those who collaborate well with others are usually those who are willing to make available resources, ideas, relationships, and opportunities for the good of the community, whether or not the benefits accrue directly to themselves or to their organization. This generosity tends to engender more of the same, as other potential partners follow the example of the one who is generous.

A related characteristic is an awareness of the gifts one has to offer. This awareness results in a sense of stewardshipthe realization that these gifts are meant to be shared. (The opposite is a false humility, which assumes one does not have anything of value to share.)

The gifts to be shared can include learning. Organizations that partner well are not selfish with lessons they have learned but are eager to share these (including the hard lessons about what does not work).

Affirming the gifts of others goes along with a healthy awareness of ones own gifts. Those who partner well have realized that they and their organizations are not self-sufficient, but are meant to work in interdependence with others. Aware of their own shortcomings, they are thus on the lookout for partners whose gifts compliment their own, and vice-versa. Instead of seeing organizational capabilities in a competitive sense, they delight in bringing wholeness to the community through partnering.

Listening is another characteristic of those who partner well. Rather than trying to sell others on their own agenda, they are instead attuned to what they can learn from others. Although they have a clear mission and are true to their own convictions, they also have the humility to recognize that their agenda is but one small part of a larger picture. This larger contextand their place in itbecomes clearer as they hear from others.

Trust is essential to effective partnering, as is handling conflict in an effective manner. Both involve risk-taking and vulnerability, and both improve with practice.

Relationship, not structure is at the heart of effective partnering. Those who partner well value the action of working together more than they value the organizational structures within which they work. It is their commitment to one another, rather than to the structures, that keeps them together. They are willing to work outside established structures or even create new ones for the sake of their common vision.

Shared success is one of the fruits of effective partnering as well as a characteristic of those who do it well. They are not quick to take personal credit when things go well (or to point the finger at others when they dont). Rather they delight in celebrating together those victories which they could have never won by themselves.

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton is the president of ChinaSource and the editor of the ChinaSource Quarterly. Prior to assuming his current position, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding US director of... View Full Bio