Five Critical Attributes of a Successful Partnership

…That very few people execute well

There are lots of different types of #partnerships, #alliances, and cooperative relationships in the business world. And like with most relationships, some work better than others. From my many years of learning through successes and failures – which is where we tend to learn our most valuable lessons…the hard way, I’m sharing the key characteristics of what makes a partnership thrive.

1) Align your goals up front – I know, as simple as this sounds, I’ve seen many partnerships with disconnects in the objectives. While both parties surely don’t need to have the same goals, you need to know what your partners’ objectives are so that you can be party to supporting those objectives and making that part of your priorities.

2) Being empathic goes a long way – This is critical and is candidly not a common trait. Most often people focus on themselves, their own objectives, and their own needs. They “drive” to their goals. Being self-focused doesn’t work in a true partnership. Put yourself in your partners’ shoes. What are their constraints, challenges and obstacles? What do THEY care about and what do they need. Understanding your partners constraints allows you to help both of you work together to wend your way through the potentially problematic issues and achieve optimal results.

3) Trust is everything, build it – This isn’t an easy task, but it is vital to work on. I have a couple tips:

a. Don’t try to squeeze out every last nickel. It’s important you both end up happy and getting a good value out of a transaction. If your goal is to “win” that means the other person loses. That doesn’t bode well for a partnership and doesn’t support the idea of trust if your ‘partner’ is looking over their shoulder.

b. Be open about what you can’t do or can’t offer. Candor builds trust and shows vulnerability– that you’re willing to admit your limits, and that you aren’t going to overpromise and under deliver. I have sometimes been accused of being an over sharer, but frankly I’d rather show my warts than give my partner the worry that I’m hiding them.

4) Solve problems together – The true value of a partnership is the #gestalt. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. You are better together than you are each on your own. You both bring some resources to the table: money, brand, technology, experience, successes, and failures. If you are able to truly understand that neither of you may know everything but that together you can create something bigger, that’s what defines a rewarding partnership.

5) Don’t ignore the red flags – #BusinessPartnerships are no different than any relationship. Sometimes we lust for the idea of what we want, think we can get, and believe we need. It can overshadow the warning signs that we get in the early stages of the relationship where our greed, lust, or arrogance makes us believe that we can overcome anything. Stop. Listen to your brain and not your heart. You’ve been there, done that. It’s way better to not go down that road than to have to figure out how to turn back.

Lew Brown is a veteran of creating and managing start-ups and has built long lasting strategic relationships for organizations and individuals. In August 2018 Lew successfully sold his smart home as a service platform, MiOS. He’s a serial entrepreneur, thought leader, influencer, a keynote speaker, and a dad. Originally seen on LinkedIn.