“Partnership is the new leadership.” These words are more than a mantra for award-winning Hong Kong-born and Macau-based entrepreneur, philanthropist, and daughter of casino magnate Stanley Ho, Sabrina Ho. They are an ethos: a guiding philosophy that has propelled her to the top of the arts and auction industry, while also enabling her to inspire change through empowering women worldwide.
Ho’s most recent project has been founding Poly Auction Macau, where she and her team are launching the first-ever charitable auction, which is also the first to donate one hundred percent of proceeds from an exclusive collection to the development of arts. In this project, and in the initiatives preceding it, partnership has been key.
“The secret behind the success of Poly Auction Macau is our unique ability to harness human ingenuity, capital resources, and hunger for change of so many different players,” explains Ho. “Alone, we can only do so much. But when the auction, arts, philanthropic, and business communities all come together, we can be an accelerator for extraordinarily impactful and enduring change. Strategic partnerships are a win-win.”
Ho channels this mantra into promoting two of her lifelong passions: the development of Asian arts and culture, as well as advocating for women and girls globally by creating avenues for equality, education, and prosperity at scale.
“Women earn 70 percent of Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees and about the same share of Masters of Fine Arts in the U.S.,” she explains. “But less than half of working artists across all arts disciplines are women. And when it comes to the business side of things (museum and gallery work, agents and representation, auctions and more) women are tremendously underrepresented. I believe that this should change, and that through smart, strategic partnerships, we can accomplish it.”
Ho’s philosophy is backed up by research. Studies show that collaboration across industries leads to vastly improved results, by bringing together different skill sets and resources, and by fostering a spirit of unity and camaraderie. Even the perception of collaboration can create results.
Poly Auction Macau has proven to be a success. Ho has donated paintings worth $1.5 million HKD to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and has auctioned $50 million USD in the support of amfAR. But for Ho, it’s just the start.
“I’m committed to partnerships that can leave an enduring and impactful legacy for the next generation, ensuring that Asian art and culture can continue to be the envy of the world while also building the successful creative workforce of tomorrow. I want women and girls everywhere to see that they can be catalysts for the change, innovation, and inspiration our world needs right now. I want them to see that they can build auctions (traditionally a man’s world) and excel in science and all forms of business.”
Ho encourages leaders to embrace her focus on partnerships. “For entrepreneurs and CEOs like me, we’re often inculcated with the belief that we can only succeed if we ‘go it alone’.” And, indeed, studies show that people tend to eschew collaboration when money is brought into the picture, seeing the situation as zero-sum.
“The success of Poly Auction Macau, and the success I’ve enjoyed so far in my career, is proof that collaboration is essential. I advise young entrepreneurs that partnership isn’t about splitting up the pie, it’s about growing it. The result is a better product, bigger revenues, and a greater ability to give back in the ways about which we care.”
Ho also advises leaders to embrace partnership as an internal leadership strategy. “Partnership is about communication. By communicating with empathy, you can better support your team, all while improving performance. Partnership works vertically, too; focusing on how to influence, coach, and mentor others and on how to resolve conflict is essential for success. Research shows that every unaddressed conflict can waste hours of company time, putting a drain on morale and resources. Have the tough conversations, but do it in a way that emphasizes honesty, transparency, and true partnership.”
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This article was originally published on Forbes.