New Year, New Partner?

Now that everyone is back to work, and a semblance of reality has returned, it might be that you are thinking about your career objectives. If becoming a partner, or moving in that direction is on your agenda, here are some things you might want to think about.

Business Development

Without a doubt, this is the big one. How are you going to bring in work when you’re promoted? Do you have existing clients you can ‘farm’, or do you need to get out and ‘hunt’ new ones? Do you have a strong network you can work with and alongside to refer work to you, and are you fastidious about maintaining it? All of these questions will form a fundamental part of your business plan, and if there are any areas you’re not sure about, now is the time to get clarity.


What does it mean to be a partner in your organisation? It is essential to understand what partners do that is different from the work you do today. Calibrating what the change is in responsibility, influence and impact in advance of any promotion will set you up for success. It is likely to involve understanding of what you are going to let go of or stop doing. One thing’s for sure, you won’t be an effective partner if you expect to do everything you are doing today in addition to the work that comes with promotion.

Who’s supporting you?

In my work coaching people on the path to partnership, I am struck by the variety of people who are instrumental to each promotion. In the same way that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a range of people to support a new partner. We hear a lot about sponsorship, and it is critical to have the right person making your case when you are not in the room. Additionally, mentors, peers, coaches and others can make a huge difference in how you approach partnership, and how you build your confidence in the process.

Looking after yourself

Something easy to overlook at what can be a challenging time is the need to look after yourself. Working additional hours and putting extreme pressure on yourself to prove your worth is possible in the short term, but unsustainable longer term. Working out how to make sure you can deliver results in a sustained way needs you to be clear about your boundaries between home and work and stick to them. It also requires you to have the self-awareness to know what you need to function at your best. If you’re struggling with this, ask for some support. Getting it right will mean that you are the partner you want to be for the long term.

While it’s not an exhaustive list, this might give you food for thought as you get clear around what it means for you to get promoted and be a successful partner. It also gives you some ideas about how you will succeed when you get there. Good luck!

Author Anna Wesson is an executive coach, specialising in the transition to partnership in professional service firms.