Martin McGuinness has called for an end to the fixation with political titles after unionists proposed a pact to stop him from becoming First Minister.
Improving the lives of ordinary people should come before politicians' moves to secure jobs for the boys, the current Deputy First Minister said.
UUP leader Tom Elliott has disclosed plans to keep the First Minister's post in unionist hands if Sinn Fein wins the largest vote in May's poll. This would involve his party, which has been fiercely antagonistic toward the DUP, co-operating with them after an election.
Mr McGuinness said: "This is not about jobs for the boys and girls, this is about how we can improve the lives of people out there on our streets."
He added: "Let there be no fixation with titles, let the fixation be that we have a battle to fight and that battle is around the economy."
He said he had built up a good working relationship with First Minister Peter Robinson.
"So whatever happens on the other side of the election, both of us (will be) here with equal mandates and both ... with a duty and a responsibility to work together for the betterment of people," he said.
"Our track record has shown over the last four years that we are capable of doing that."
Under Assembly rules, the party with the largest Assembly vote selects the First Minister. In last year's European election the unionist vote was split between the UUP and DUP, with Sinn Fein topping the poll.
Mr Elliott has suggested a post-election pact and urged voters to transfer their ballot in the proportional representation election to other unionists.