All of us ‑ in both our personal and professional lives ‑ seek out partners: a spouse to love, a friend to share a laugh or a mentor to guide us through life’s uncertainties. Those that we surround ourselves with support us through the good times and the bad.
These special people we admit into our inner-circle have the power to shape our lives; likewise, we have that same power to shape theirs. The most advantageous and enduring partnerships are between like minded parties whose needs and goals have been met and balanced in a mutually-beneficial arrangement.
Here are 5 essential elements that comprise a valuable, sustainable partnership:
1. Ethics: All is fair in love and war... or is it?
As an entrepreneur, my passion for my company manifests itself in a daily “call to arms,” a constant drive to “rally the troops” and fight for my success. In this temperamental economy, even the most seemingly mundane decisions can set in motion a battle for a business’ livelihood. When the stakes are high, you must be vigilant of the choices you make in how you run your business and those you decide to partner with. Listen to the little voice in your head when an offer’s means to an end doesn’t sit well with you. A partner whose gilded promises hide a rusty ethical-interior can not only compromise your integrity, but also expose you to a whole world of “legal hurt.”
2. Goals: Define, Match, Align.
Before you can determine with whom you want to partner, you must first identify what your goals are and how you want to achieve them: this will serve as the blueprint outlining the types of partnerships you will require. Once this list is completed, it’s time to seek out and match yourself up with partners who can properly service your business to achieve your goals. Sharing your goals with your partners is key in ensuring that everyone’s interests are aligned and aimed at working towards achieving those goals together.
3. Ability: They don’t have to be your best friend, just the best.
I’ve been told by one of my mentor’s that I don’t always have to like the person I do business with (even though it is preferred) but I have to be able to get along with them and treat them with respect as long as they have the ability to provide the services that I need. It’s their expertise that will better my company and allow me to achieve my goals. In sports, those with the best talent and ability win the game, and the same is true in business.
4. Communication: Talk to each other.
In business today, we all have grown very dependent on email. I love that I can instantly dialogue with my partners around the globe with the simple push of a button. For that quick exchange, email is great, but it’s still imperative to pick up the phone and speak to your partners. Many things can get lost in translation over email. For important conversations--i.e. deal points, contract negotiations etc.--nothing gets the job done like a simple phone call. And of course, there are definitely moments when a face-to-face meeting is essential. I’ve found that people are more likely to let down their guard and open up when you are sitting in front of them, and it’s easier to navigate the conversation when you can read their body language. When appropriate, get in front of your partner: meet for a drink, a meal, at the office or even at a sporting event. Face time will help open the lines of communication and further strengthen your partnership.
5. Trust: A Must.
As I stated before, choosing partners who are on the same page as you ethically is important, but it’s only the first step. Partners must gain your TRUST. A partnership without trust is no partnership at all. Without trust the partnership has no long-term viability: if you’re doing business with someone you cannot trust today, you won’t do business with them tomorrow. Without trust you can have no confidence in their ability to deliver their end of the bargain, or if they are committed to helping you achieve your goals. Trust is often a very difficult component of a partnership to nail down as it usually evolves with time. Although most business decisions are primarily built on necessity, those that are privileged enough to have a foundation built on trust have the greatest potential to enjoy long-term success.
Jordan will be moderating The International CEO Roundtable on February 17th in Manhattan. This unique and timely CEO roundtable is designed to produce informative discussions between business leaders that operate in the international arena. Attendees will walk away with new ideas and the latest best practices from other CEOs which they can implement into their own businesses. To request an invite to this event, visit www.nyreport.com/roundtableinvite.