Two Ingredients for Successful Communications Business Partnering

Communication The Sister of Leadership” – John Adair

Professor John Eric Adair is a British academic who is a leadership theorist and author of more than forty books on business, military and other leadership.

In this video, John describes good communication as being able to ‘infuse others with the same spirit that animates you.’ He refers to Nelson as having this magic ingredient and along with the likes of Dame Cicely Saunders who he describes as having a combination of ‘love and steel’ – essential qualities of a great leader.

Communications Business Partner – The Sister

I’m sometimes asked ‘What is a Communications Business Partner?’ And if Googled you will see something along the lines of …

“The Internal Communications and Engagement Business Partner plays an integral part in the way in which our employees interconnect with one another by acting as the communications lead for key areas and for significant corporate projects to drive engagement and business performance.”

All very true and ‘steely’ and it lacks the essential ingredient ‘Love’, something As communicators we should choose to keep as an essential component in our work-life. These balanced qualities are essential for any role dealing with people and never more so than as a leader or communicator.

3C0E5347-DE0B-4EF9-BC76-FF93BC1A935BThe key to motivating colleagues at all levels, is love and caring, not put-downs, fear and telling people to do better, play harder. We’ve all come across that type of leader at some point in our career right? If so, I’m sure the thought runs cold steel shivers down your spine. Brrrrr!

In my experience as a Comms Business Partner, a team-lead and as a function head, that building productive relationships requires equal measure of love and steel.


  • Teams perform better, they are more loyal and work harder.


  • Senior Leaders respect this approach as it forms a solid productive base they can work.


I have created a visual to simplify what is expected of a Comms Business Partner, as you read through this, try to imagine each element being implemented just the Steel fist and again with both Love and Steel balanced equally.

It soon becomes clear when you reach the ‘Senior Leaders’ section that the Steel hand approach simply will not work. I mean, imagine providing ‘honest feedback to clients’ with a steel fist. I’m pretty sure that approach could be career limiting to say the least.

The business partner formula is equally ineffective with all love and no steel. And no matter where the colleague sits on the org chart, we should be treating them with equal respect.

The Communication Business Partner Model

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