The Key to Effective Partnerships

So which is it - opposites attract or birds of a feather flock together? I think it depends.

My husband and I fall in the first camp and receive completely opposite results when taking any personality assessment. Our differences drive each other crazy, but also create this perfect blend and balance (for which I'm so grateful).

It seems that, in romantic relationships, we are often strategic enough to choose partners with different personalities and strengths, but in the workplace, we tend to gravitate toward working styles similar to our own. Go getters want to work with other fast-paced drivers. Analytical minds enjoy partnering with others who take time to assess the data before acting. Relationship builders prefer officemates who, like them, want to share more than just tasks and desk space. 

We are comfortable partnering with people like us. It's easier and even feels more productive. But is it?

One of my all-time favorite colleagues had a very similar style to mine. We knew what the other would do and say - the relationship was reliable and easy. Together we hit some projects out of the park...our execution skills were top notch and, combined, we could drive almost any initiative to completion on time, under budget and with attention to every detail. But, both being very practical and focused on execution, we struggled to think creatively outside of the box. What seemed like a dream partnership actually inhibited us from maximizing our potential and the potential for our projects.

Partnering with opposite strengths and styles brings the best out of us and our work. Yes, those opposite styles may drive us crazy and feel like they are holding us back, but they're not - they're unveiling new possibilities that we can't find on our own. Remember, we are naturally inclined to work with people like us, so we have to intentionally choose diverse partnerships. It's hard, but worth it. 

You are wired to be great at some things and not at others. Do what you do best and balance yourself with people who are great at the other things. 


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Abbey uses over a decade of talent management experience to help organizations drive business results through enhanced employee engagement. She is passionate about empowering individuals and teams to be their best. She's also a mom to two sweet girls, a wife to one good man, and a fan of running and hosting dinner parties.