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The Power of We: Succeeding Through Partnerships

The Power of We: Succeeding Through Partnerships

by Jonathan M. Tisch, Karl Weber

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Praise for The Power of We

"In The Power of We, Jonathan Tisch reminds us again that working together still yields the best results. Jon has spent a lifetime mobilizing people and organizations to get a job done in business and in civic service. His experience, optimism, intelligence, and common sense are reflected in this fresh look at the rewards of


Praise for The Power of We

"In The Power of We, Jonathan Tisch reminds us again that working together still yields the best results. Jon has spent a lifetime mobilizing people and organizations to get a job done in business and in civic service. His experience, optimism, intelligence, and common sense are reflected in this fresh look at the rewards of partnerships."
-President Bill Clinton

"The Power of We offers a clear and compelling lesson in how today's business leaders can create new synergies and gain competitive advantage by learning how to partner successfully."
-Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and CEO, American Express Company

"Jon Tisch has lived the strategy he describes in The Power of We, and now this extraordinary man and successful leader shares his strategy with us. Building partnerships at all levels-social, intellectual, and political, as well as entrepreneurial-will be one of the keys to progress in the coming decades. Jon Tisch provides a road map for those who grasp that reality."
-John Sexton, President, New York University

"Being a leader requires vision, focus, and influence. Jonathan Tisch has exhibited all three in this great body of work about what it takes to be a partner and something bigger than yourself. The Power of We is a must read."
-Pat Riley, President, the Miami HEAT

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“expounds on how to succeed through building partnerships…” (Vanity Fair, September 2004)
Publishers Weekly
The CEO of Loews Hotels, Tisch preaches a management philosophy of cooperation: forging partnerships with employees, customers, shareholders and communities. A skeptical reader will ask what kind of partnership leaves the author heir to a $21-billion fortune while most of his employee-partners make less than $21,000 per year; the author addresses this question head-on, leaving the executive suite and performing the entry-level jobs in Loews hotels: cleaning, cooking, serving, repairing and checking guests in. The difficulty of these jobs reinforces "how crucial it is for top management to give the front-line people the tools, resources, and freedom they need to carry out their demanding jobs." He also confronts a union-busting reputation with a set of arguments for and against organized labor. The result is inspiring as an account of the way businesses should be run, but not entirely convincing as an account of the way Loews is actually run: Tisch describes at length how uncomfortable and humiliating the front-line employee uniforms are but he doesn't consider changing them because they are cheap to launder. Accounts from other executives who practice partnership management argue strongly for the ideas; this book as a whole gives explicit examples and recipes for applying them with an entertaining mix of analysis and stories. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Read an Excerpt

The Power of We

Succeeding Through Partnerships
By Jonathan Tisch

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-65282-2

Chapter One

The Power of Partnerships

Getting from Me to We

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. -Henry Ford (1863-1947) American industrialist

This book is about a principle of leadership that I call the Power of Partnerships. It's a simple philosophy based on putting aside our individual concerns in order to work together toward a greater good. For business people like me, the Power of Partnerships can produce dramatic benefits for the bottom line. Whenever managers, employees, communities, shareholders-and even competitors-join forces in pursuit of shared goals, everybody wins.

It's an approach to leadership that is not divisive, but unifying; not competitive, but collaborative; not based on a zero-sum philosophy of scarcity, but on abundance-the economic, intellectual, and spiritual abundance that human beings can produce when their talents and energies are unleashed. The Power of Partnerships has worked for our company, Loews Hotels, benefiting our employees, our owners, and the communities we serve. And as I'll explain in this book, it's also working for many individuals, businesses, and other organizations in almost every field of human endeavor.

This isn't the standard approach to business. Most of the heralded CEOs you see on the cover ofFortune magazine or being interviewed on CNBC didn't get there by talking about partnerships. Some of them pride themselves on their ability to squeeze, manipulate, and exploit other people. Of course, they probably don't use those words. Management gurus have developed plenty of euphemisms. But in the end, the classic hard-driving business leader most Americans are familiar with achieves results through power and fear-not through collaboration. It's a model of leadership that dates back to the robber barons of the nineteenth century and survives today in the newest dog-eat-dog reality TV show, The Apprentice.

Yet, history shows that the power of intimidation is often short lived. As the master manipulators of the 1990s are discovering, one by one, the effectiveness of leading through fear eventually fades. And when your ethical lapses eventually come back to ruin you, few of those who once flattered you are really sorry to see you go.

Deep down, I believe, most business people-most people from any walk of life-are idealistic. They'd like to believe that it's possible to succeed by appealing to the best in their fellow humans ... that the Power of Partnerships is real and not a naïve fantasy. But many people find it hard to break away from cynical assumptions about human nature. I see the skepticism on their faces when I talk about the amazing things that real partnerships can achieve. I can almost hear them thinking:

This all sounds very nice. And it probably works, up to a point. When times are good, people are willing to work together and share the rewards. But it's a different story when times are bad. When the crunch comes, it's everyone for himself! The law of the jungle rules. That's just the way people are.

This attitude is very hard-nosed, realistic, and cold-blooded-and dead wrong. I can tell you that, when the crunch comes, the vast majority of people will respond to an appeal for cooperation, mutual support, and teamwork. If a few leaders show by their own attitudes, words, and actions that they really believe in the Power of Partnerships, most people around them will rise to the occasion and join in the effort for the good of all.

The Power of Partnerships isn't a brand-new idea. Smart leaders in business, politics, and nonprofit organizations have long operated through partnerships. But it's an idea that has become more timely than ever.

In today's complex world, no one can be all things to all people; no single organization is capable of mobilizing all the resources required to accomplish everything it needs to do. Therefore, we must work with and through other organizations. For businesses, the organizations we need to partner with include other companies as well as industry associations (which advocate for us in the public arena), educational institutions (which provide us with skilled employees), civic groups (which help shape a society in which we can work and do business comfortably), and government agencies (which provide a framework of laws, regulations, and infrastructure that allows business to operate).

The Power of Partnerships begins with the recognition that no organization exists in a vacuum; we can achieve success and prosperity only by working effectively with others. But managing by partnership means more than this. It also means redefining the terms of traditional business relationships and transforming them from adversarial to cooperative. In essence, it means shifting your philosophy of relationships from Caveat emptor ("Let the buyer beware") to the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

As this book demonstrates, managing in accordance with the Power of Partnerships offers you and your organization enormous benefits:

The Power of Partnerships eliminates or reduces obstacles by converting potential adversaries and enemies into allies and friends.

The Power of Partnerships expands your reach into markets and suppliers by giving you contacts, connections, and channels of communication beyond those you own.

The Power of Partnerships gives you access to resources, talents, and strengths controlled by other companies and organizations, thereby multiplying your capabilities and compensating for your limitations.

The Power of Partnerships aligns the interests of your organization with those of a broader community, so that anything that benefits one of your partners benefits you.

The Power of Partnerships reduces the amount of time, energy, and money that must be devoted to conflict resolution and stress management, freeing up resources for more productive pursuits. The Power of Partnerships makes your organization a more positive, ethical, and friendly place to work, which attracts better employees.

And because one partnership tends to beget further partnerships, the Power of Partnerships produces a positive spiraling effect. By contrast, when conflict and division dominate, they lead to increasing isolation and a negative, downward spiral.

You can enjoy these benefits only if you make a serious commitment to address the challenges involved in partnership:

You can't fake partnership. Unless you are genuinely prepared to treat your partner's concerns as equal in importance to your own, don't expect to forge a real or lasting partnership.

Partnership demands creativity. It is usually easy to see how the interests of partners conflict or clash; it is not so easy to find a new way of doing business that allows you to transcend the conflict and meet both partners' needs.

Partnership requires compromise. If the idea of leaving a single dollar on the table drives you nuts, you may not be cut out for management by partnership.

Partnership demands commitment and consistency. When you enter a partnership, you are inviting other people and organizations to rely on you. In effect, you are saying, "I will follow through on my promises; I will be here tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that." This doesn't mean that a partnership-oriented company can never change; it does mean that you can't change arbitrarily or capriciously, without considering the impact on your partners.

Partnership requires flexibility. A control freak is unlikely to be comfortable in a true partnership. One of the main benefits of partnership is that it mobilizes the talents of two or more partners to benefit them all; but this can't happen unless you are willing to let your partners unleash their talents-even if they make choices that are different from the ones you would have made.

Partnership requires openness. Partners need to understand one another as well as their businesses. This means sharing information-not necessarily in every detail, but in enough depth so that every partner is equipped to manage appropriately for everyone's mutual benefit. You can't expect to keep a partner in the dark.

Above all, a partnership requires fairness. Everyone must benefit from a partnership; otherwise, it's not a true partnership. If you try to use a partnership as an opportunity to exploit or take advantage of other people or organizations, the partnership will soon collapse.

The chapters of this book provide illustrations of these challenges, along with stories about how smart leaders are tackling those challenges and turning them into opportunities.

Some in the business world who resist the idea of partnership do so because of a "libertarian" philosophy that emphasizes the supposedly absolute moral right of each person to the fruits of his or her labor. Libertarianism has many variations, each with its favored theorists and vocabulary. Some libertarians consider themselves devotees of the novelist Ayn Rand, others of economists like F. A. Hayek and Milton Friedman, still others of philosophers such as Hume, Locke, and Mill; they describe themselves using terms ranging from "libertarian" to "objectivist" to "anarcho-capitalist." I'm not trying to write a philosophical treatise. My quarrel is with the loosely defined, often ill-considered form of libertarianism that some business people use to criticize most forms of collective enterprise.

According to this form of libertarianism, the idea that business accomplishments grow out of cooperation among individuals and groups is for wimps. "Real" business people believe in going it alone, with no reliance on government or social institutions, which are viewed as parasites or leeches draining resources and energy from the only true creators of wealth-the entrepreneurs.

At its worst, this philosophy can be egotistical and mean-spirited. It's also factually inaccurate. The reality is that virtually every business relies on social and governmental resources for part of its success. The myth of the go-it-alone business hero is just that-a myth.

Where would the entrepreneur be without the infrastructure provided by American government and society?-the roads, harbors, water supply, sewage systems, airports, and railroads, all of which were built partly or entirely with government funding, planning, and resources. Where would businesses get trained employees without the public systems of education at the elementary, secondary, and college levels? How could business survive without the basic guarantees of law and order, enforceable contracts, and elemental rules of fair business established and maintained by governments?

And within the memory of some living Americans, we've seen instances of how dependent capitalism is on a vibrant and effective public sector. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, when tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes, faith in free enterprise sank to historic lows. Many joined extreme political parties-the socialists, communists, and various right-wing groups-that promised to fix the failures of capitalism through dictatorial methods.

How was capitalism saved? In significant measure through the creative efforts of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and the "brain trust" in his government, which created a safety net for citizens through Social Security and related programs; stimulated the economy through spending programs like the TVA, CCC, and WPA; and created mechanisms to correct the excesses and abuses of capitalism, such as the SEC, FDA, and FTC. The era of partnership between government and private enterprise that FDR launched-and into which some business people had to be dragged kicking and screaming-may have kept America from going the way of Germany, Japan, Italy, and Russia.

Some young entrepreneurs in the high-tech arena echo the "libertarian" idea that business and the broader community are two completely separate and unrelated spheres. For example, they lobby against regulation of commerce on the Internet by saying that government contributes nothing to their success and can only harm them. They overlook the fact that the Internet wouldn't exist without the government. It originated in the 1960s in a Defense Department research program known as Arpanet, and its successful protocols and systems owe much to ongoing government programs.

The point is not that regulation of the Internet is necessarily a good idea; it's a complex question with good arguments on both sides. But for the young denizens of Silicon Valley to imagine that they created today's high-tech industries from scratch, with no help from the rest of society, is very naïve.

If you think your business today has been operating successfully without partnerships, you are probably fooling yourself. Look again at your operation and think seriously about how you rely on help or cooperation from other businesses, community groups, civic and educational institutions, government, social agencies, and individual citizens.

In today's complex world, operating without partners is not really an option for any but the simplest of businesses. The real choice is whether you will partner deliberately or inadvertently, effectively or ineffectively, thoughtfully or carelessly.

* * *

Here's a story that illustrates the role of partnerships in creating prosperity for people, companies, and communities. It also reveals more than a little about my personal leadership style-and how my company, Loews Hotels, manages to succeed in a highly competitive business arena through skillful use of partnerships, creativity, and sometimes a bit of chutzpah.

The story begins in 1993, a time when the hospitality industry was in the midst of some very tough times. The late 1980s had seen tremendous overdevelopment, leading to a glut of hotel rooms, just in time for the prolonged recession of the early 1990s to send demand into a tailspin.

We at Loews Hotels were fortunate. We'd watched the feeding frenzy of the 1980s from the sidelines rather than contributing to the overbuilding. (The conservative investment philosophy for which our parent company, Loews Corporation, is noted served us well then, as it has so many other times.) Thus, as other hotel chains were licking their wounds, we were preparing for a period of controlled growth, hoping to take advantage of the improving business climate.

We were looking for opportunities.


Excerpted from The Power of We by Jonathan Tisch Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

JONATHAN M. TISCH is Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, and has been at the helm of the company since 1989. He has been instrumental in furthering the development of the hotel chain and its emergence as one of the country’s leading luxury hotel companies. At the same time, Tisch is recognized as a preeminent leader of the $555 billion travel and tourism industry. He is Chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable and NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism marketing organization, and was formerly vice chair of the Welfare to Work Partnership and chairman of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Loews Corporation, parent company of Loews Hotels, is one of the largest diversified financial holding companies in the United States, with nearly $80 billion in assets. Tisch believes that a new model of "business philosophy" based on partnerships is the key to corporate and economic success in the future.
KARL WEBER is a freelance writer specializing in business and current affairs. He is coauthor with Adrian Slywotzky of How to Grow When Markets Don’t and How Digital Is Your Business?

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