6 (+1) Rules of Successful Partnerships

Have you ever wondered what makes a great partnerhsip? Is it trust? Inspiration? Or is it just chemistry? What is the magic formula that guarantees success? Here is a list of thoughts and lessons from my experience (personal and from observing other people)


Common Goals: I am not sure if this is the most important element, but I guess it's out there as one of the key drivers of successful partnerships. Think about it, can you partner with someone who has completely different goals? This means that you need to be clear about your goals to begin with.

Common Values: Although goals can be aligned, we often realize that we can achieve these goals in different ways. This is where values are important because they set the tools and the limitations. If you are not comfortable with some of the tactics that your team is using, you will always debate about it. Better off to work with people who share your values.

Complementary skills: Although its good to have common goals and values, in most cases skills should be different and complementary. Starting your own business, you need people from different disciplines and experiences. Some of them may also be smarter than you. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Communication: This is about being open and managing expectations. It about expressing your opinion, but also listening to what other people have to say. On this note, if you have to say NO, it's always better to do so earlier, than later. (If you don't say anything, people will assume that they can count on you and they will act accordingly. It will be much harder to face them later.)

Flexibility: We all need to kill our babies from time to time. If you had a great idea and your team thinks differently, you need to listen to their point of view and that may mean killing the idea.

Leadership and team: Sometimes you need to support the team even if you are not 100% in agreement (unless it's a values issue in which case you should do what you feel is right). Sometimes, you need to step down so someone else can lead the way. This in fact is the essence of a team. The question that you need to ask yourself is "I am better off having 5% of something bigger or 100% of nothing?"

Try to apply these rules in your team and see what happens. I bet that if your team is strong, it's because some of these things have been established. Then of course there is chemistry: sometimes you are just connected with someone in a relationship. But then again, partnerships are like real relationships. Romance is important, but you still need to have some things in common and be willing to work with someone for the mutual benefit.