There are many benefits to having strategic thought partners.
Thought partners are peers you can reach out to who are professional, capable, and trustworthy. They are incredibly beneficial when you’re uncertain and are great people to connect with when you have provocative questions or pressing challenges. Theirs are also often the first names that come to mind when opportunities for collaboration arise.
Strategic thought partners help you think differently and offer new perspectives you may have never considered on your own. Sometimes, I call them my “professional friends” because they’re friends first whom I can trust and be open with but also admirable professionals. We might initially meet due to a common connection point—like a Strategic Coach workshop—and will hit it off because we can talk about the things we find important and beneficial, like leadership, profiles, team building, mindset, and more.
Strategic thought partner success criteria.
My strategic thought partner Cathy Davis and I think about the whole Strategic Coach organisation, not just the next task. With all my thought partners, we each benefit from better results because of our conversations, so they are always worthwhile.
I have seven main success criteria when I select a strategic thought partner:
1. They are someone I genuinely care about as a friend.
2. They think in an interesting way that broadens my perspective.
3. They have a complementary approach to my own.
4. They have a depth of experience that I don’t.
5. They’re passionate about building a great business.
6. They know the importance of intellectual collaboration.
7. We end our conversations energised and excited.
Babs and Dan, the co-founders of Strategic Coach, have their network of strategic thought partners, which inspired me to see the importance of these relationships and create my own. I found that Strategic Coach workshops are a great opportunity to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs who have had similar experiences and situations in their careers. You can benefit from learning how your thought partners handled those situations creatively and effectively.
A couple of my thought partners include Amy Bruske, the president of Kolbe Corp, who has a passion for leadership, people’s development of their unique capabilities, and their success in the world; and Nick Sonnenberg, founder of Get Leverage, who is all about efficiency, remote work, teamwork, and optimising systems. He calls me his “intellectual sparring partner” because we don’t approach things in the same way. However, we both know that a benefit to having an intellectual sparring partner is that we don’t always agree, which expands our thinking and makes for a fun and engaging conversation. Another strategic thought partner is Evan Ryan, the author of AI Is Your Teammate, who shares my Kolbe score exactly. Freedom is of utmost importance to him.
If you’re a leader or founder visionary who has been insulated lately, build your list of success criteria for strategic thought partners and get out there to find them. I think you’ll find that people would love the privilege of being trusted as a thought partner and will respect your transparency about your uncertainties.
Sometimes, thought partners can be coaches, and sometimes they may be someone you already know but haven’t consciously tapped into. Just ask. There are lots of potential thought partners out there who will gladly support and celebrate you on your journey and welcome your insights too!
To learn more about how to build a better support system as an entrepreneur and level up your team, check out the Team Success Podcast.