Monday, November 8, 2010

Power of 2: How to make the most of your partnerships at work and in life

Book Club... And Then Some!

Power of 2: How to make the most of your partnerships at work and in life         

by Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller

Book Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

One of the reasons this book caught my attention was simply that I have written extensively on interpersonal communication—relationship partnering.  My Understanding Interpersonal Communication college textbook (designed for freshmen and sophomore students) went through seven editions, and had this book become available during any of that time, it certainly would have been used throughout that book as a competent, highly relevant, well-written addition.  I used sections from books like this one in my “Consider This” boxes scattered in all the chapters.

One of the strengths of this book is their use of original Gallup polling research to identify “the dimensions of partnership.”  The authors “analyzed the responses of thousands of people in search of the variables that are best at differentiating between a great partnership and a poor one.  People from all walks of life scored their working relationships with their coworkers, fellow volunteers, other students, managers, and hundreds of others with whom they regularly interact[ed]” (p. 7).

The research the authors conducted reveal eight elements of a powerful partnership: 1) complementary strengths, 2) a common mission, 3) fairness, 4) trust, 5) acceptance, 6) forgiveness, 7) communicating, and 8) unselfishness (pp. 28-30).  Brief definitions and explanations are offered in the introduction to the book, then there is a separate full chapter on each one with a final chapter, “In Closing: Looking Within,” summarizing them.  There is a section “Additional Insights for Businesspeople,” and an appendix, “How the Gallup Research Was Conducted.”

Let me, through a quotation from the book and the chapter on “Communicating,” provide an example of their writing as well as a demonstration of the power that partnerships offer (as revealed, of course, throughout the book):

        “To solve the puzzle [trying to find the structure of DNA], required a tremendous amount of conjecture.  The ability to bounce ideas off each other proved to be the principal strength of the collaboration between [Francis] Crick and [James D.] Watson.  The American admired that Crick ‘never stops talking and thinking.’  The two men ate lunch together almost every day.  Afterward, they would exchange ideas while strolling along the grounds [at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, where Crick was already working].  They shared coffee in the mornings and tea in the afternoons.  When the group in Cavendish was offered an extra room, two of Watson and Crick’s colleagues announced they were going to give it to them ‘so that you can talk to each other without disturbing the rest of us’” (p. 147).

The demands that great partnerships require of each participant are extreme and well described in the chapter, “Looking Within,” toward the end of the book.

The stories and anecdotes are arresting, the writing style is straightforward, comfortable, and engaging, and the insights, research, and substance of the book make this a “must read” selection for everyone involved in, interested in, or moving into an essential and necessary partnership.  All those who are beginning a relationship should read this book as well.  A great book!

This book is available from Power of 2: How to make the most of your partnerships at work and in life. 

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