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Do You Have A Healthy Ego Or Is There A Power Struggle?

When working with your partner, there’s too often the assumption that one of you will automatically take on the leadership and/or management role while the other follows. Usually, the presumed leader tends to be the stronger or more dominant personality type. He or she often becomes the face of the business, while the other is the behind-the-scenes or backroom person.

Initially, this works well for the business, the partnership, and the marriage. Why? The reason is because, in the beginning, you don’t know any other way. Nor do you have a need to question it. Some couples genuinely prefer this type of arrangement. However, for others, there’s a point where this strategy breaks down.

When William and I first began working together, we had no knowledge of how the struggle to find a balance of power would affect our relationship. There wasn’t any specific information available for life partners that worked together, at least nothing that related to our situation.

You likely know that most management books work within the paradigm of running a business with a single leader who is deemed to have an autocratic style. They do not consider the dynamics of couples in business. This is one reason why so many couples in business are misled and confused about how to operate powerfully together.

So, what should a couple do? How should they work together?

As life partners who work together, you need to understand that you operate in a very unique world. Standard management theory will not always apply to your situation. Your world is governed by the heart, not just the head.

When there is alignment within your relationship, there will be an ebb and flow of leadership that works seamlessly. For life partners, the role of the decision maker rapidly shifts from one to another, sometimes at the speed of light. It is a very fluid partnership; a tag team like no other. In most cases, it is only the partners who can fully appreciate the speed of any given change. Observers can be left bewildered and wonder, “Who is actually making the decisions around here?”

Understanding and Working with the Ego

There is no doubt that the silverback and the queen bee both have strong personalities . . . with egos to match. But it’s vital to acknowledge that they have very different egos. Let’s take a quick look at what we mean by "ego" in this context.

When we say “ego,” we’re not talking about anything negative, unless of course it becomes overbearing. The ego is the very essence of what makes a person unique. Ego is basically the self-importance you attach to yourself and what you do. It’s the same self-importance that causes many business owners to make statements like, “I make the decisions around here,” or “I know what’s best for my business.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with these statements. In fact, they’re probably 100 percent true! There’s nothing wrong with having a healthy ego. I stress again: a healthy ego. After all, it is our egos that drive many of us to open our businesses in the first place. Just as Sinatra sang about doing it his way, we also want to do it our way.

But the ego is a double-edged sword. It can prevent destruction or just as easily cause it, depending on how and why it is used. If the ego is directed toward only self-interest at the expense of everyone else, it will be destructive. But if the ego is used to benefit everyone, it will have a positive impact.

This week investigate whether power struggles could be occurring in your partnerships: with your spouse, with your colleagues or with both.

Louise Woodbury

If you’re ready to take your business and your partnership to the next level, then contact us today:

Email William or call us at +61 2 9955 8888.

For further insights about this topic we highly recommend reading:

The Invisible Partnership | Ch. 4 "The Power Struggle Landmine"

How can two equally strong-willed and strong-minded individuals work together powerfully?

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