Super Sports Partnerships: The 5 C’s

One of our favorite books at the Huddle Up Group is Patrick Lencioni’s “Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”  Of the five issues cited by the author is a lack of commitment.  In life, in sports, or in any valuable endeavor, absence of commitment to the end goal will most certainly lead to failure.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see Mr. Lencioni speak in person on this topic.  He often times sprinkles sports stories into his presentations, and also in his books.  Knowing he has an affinity of sorts for sports (Bay Area teams mostly), the commitment dysfunction got me thinking.  What are the most important things to consider when building partnerships in the sports tourism and events industry?
With a tip of the cap to Mr. Lencioni, we offer you our “Five C’s for Superior Sports Partnerships”…..

1.      Collaboration – Any leadership theory will offer up a list of key attributes for success.  For us, collaboration is #1.  No great feat can be achieved alone.  Partnering with others is hard to teach and even harder to learn.  Collaboration is more of an art form than anything else.  Some people inherently have the gift, some don’t.  Like anything, you can work to improve a skill, however this is the toughest one to learn and to truly be great. 

2.      Commitment – As we noted earlier, without a unified pledge to the end goal by the entire team, success will be unreachable.  The keys here are knowing the destination (goal) and when to arrive there (timeline).  If everyone agrees on those two things, you can then map out a game plan to get there together.

3.      Communication – As Lencioni’s theory points out, open and honest communication within the team will generate trust, which in the end will lead to superior results.  We often times recommend that communication times (with work teams, peers, mentors, family, etc.) be regularly scheduled just like you would a staff meeting.  Block time in your outlook calendar to specifically reach out to your partners.  Don’t put it on a to do list, it will always get put off.  Block the time, and make the connection.  It’s better to make sure everyone is on the same path along the way than it is to unravel something and start over.

4.      Creativity – One of our favorite questions to ask our partners is, “What is a home run for you?”  What we mean is, once the basic goals are agreed upon, what other stretch goal or major initiative would the partner like to achieve someday.  If you have an idea of what the grandest of plans looks like, you can share that vision with your partner.  As you move along the primary project’s path, if the home run is attainable, you may be able to get creative and obtain it along the journey.  By asking the question, you can open the playbook to creative thinking to reach the larger goal, and likely secure that partner for life.

5.      Competition – In a famous gangster movie, the main character said, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”  This applies to your competition as well.  The more you know about what they are doing and what goals they have, the more successful you will be when you roll out your own initiatives.  One key element here is to have a good feel for how your competition will respond when you make a move.  If you were to raise your event’s entry fees, what will the competing event do with theirs?  Should your destination decide to ban paying bid fees, what will your neighboring CVB or sports commission do?

Fictional character Gordon Gekko once proclaimed, “The most valuable commodity I know of is information.”  This applies to great sports partnership as well.  Information sharing is critical to each of the Five C’s noted here.  We need information to collaborate, to set goals we can commit towards, to communicate knowledgably, to be creative, and to evaluate our competition.
Successful sports partnerships require a sharing of information to generate any level of relevant achievement.  If you can create a culture of sharing and trust, you can achieve the Five C’s, and set your organization up for sustainable long-term success.