The route to partnership is a hard slog. However, there are often a few number of people who seem to be given extra help and all the right assignments and experiences to make it to partner.

These select few are often tagged by partners as ‘partnership potential’; meaning they may be given extra help, whether formally or informally, to make it to partner. In this blog post, I will explore what does it mean to be ‘partnership potential’ and how you too can be seen as partnership potential by your firm’s partners.

What does it mean to be partnership potential?

Based on my decade in professional services and the research I, and my co-author did for ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘, there were typically five characteristics that enable firms to identify the individual’s future partnership potential. These are:

  • Commitment to the firm, its vision and its clients
  • Commerciality
  • Leadership and management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • ‘Thinking’ skills.

Effectively, you could make a large difference to your career by knowing these characteristics and working out how you will demonstrate these on a day-to-day basis. All too often, in my experience, associates and managers have limited information regarding what their firm and partners are looking for and as a result, they rely on word of mouth, which can be both misleading and sometimes totally wrong.

There are no pre-determined rules for what it takes to become partnership potential in your firm.

This will differ by firm, partner and practice area. The only way for you to find this out is to ask the partners in your firm what they are looking for in deciding that someone has partnership potential.

Whilst one firm or practice area may place more emphasis on some of these characteristics, typically your firm will expect you to acquire and demonstrate, if you are to be selected as partnership potential, all of these characteristics in the early years of your career.

We created the Progress to Partner subscriber-only site to make this as easy as possible. There are guides, self-study courses, useful videos, workbooks waiting for you – everything you need to know about how to make partner all in one place! There’s even a Game Plan guide on How to Raise your Profile”. Check it out here!

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