8 Elements Every Great Business Partnership Must Have

Teaming up with others is a part of business. You partner with colleagues, with employees, with other organizations.

But are those partnerships great? Do they include the elements of effective partnering?

One title I really enjoy and often recommend is: “Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life” by Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller, Ph.D.

The authors studied the dimensions of partnership, and through their research, set out to determine what separates a great partnership from a poor partnership.

What they found is that “great partnerships don’t just happen.”  Powerful alliances include eight essential components. These elements can be used to make the most out of your business partnerships and the partnerships in your personal life.

8 Elements of Successful Partnerships

1. Commitment to a Common Mission
While basic, it’s essential. Successful partnerships need to rally around a common goal and commit to it. That means understanding the goal … believing in it … living it.

2. Complementary Capabilities
This is one of the most powerful reasons for partnering. Focusing your time on what you do best and allowing your partners to focus on their strength makes a well-rounded team.

The element of complementary strengths can be seen in the partnerships we form at Constellation Payments. Software providers team with us to integrate their solution with our payment technology. We focus on the payment processing needs and PCI compliance requirements, while our partners focus on their core competencies in software development and delivery. Together we provide a well-rounded software solution.

3. Ongoing Communication
Continuous communication is an absolute requirement for successful partnerships. Without it, your mission and vision can become lost. Worse yet, team members can end up in silos, rather than staying focused on the key objective.

4. Acceptance of Differences
Everyone is different. Each person has their own personality … perhaps a unique way of communicating, a different workstyle or way of presenting. Effective partners accept habits and quirks for the better of the organization.  The differences need to be accepted as long as they don’t negatively impact the team or deter the team from its mission.

5. Fairness
There is an instinctual need for fairness and equality among all humans. No one wants to be part of a one-sided relationship or feel that they’re getting a raw deal. Successful partnerships require balance. Effective partnering requires fairness.

6. Forgiveness
We all make mistakes. If we don’t, we are not trying hard enough. Effective partnering requires that we move on after mistakes are made and not harbor ill feelings. We must forgive our partners – and ourselves – when we make mistakes.

7. Unselfishness
The power of cooperation is well known to all of us. True collaboration to accomplish a great goal together can be hugely fulfilling. Even more fulfilling and effective are working relationships where partners are truly happy seeing the other succeed.

8. Trust
Business partnerships require trust that is built upon mutual respect, honesty and demonstrated integrity. Without this, all is lost.

I’m very fortunate to be part of so many great teams and to have solid business partnerships at Constellation Payments and Jonas Software. Together, we’ve enjoyed strong business growth – as well as professional and personal growth. We continue to grow through hard work, discipline and a focus on these essential partnership success drivers.

Steve Pinado is CEO of Constellation Payments. He also leads several Jonas Software portfolio companies within the fitness, payment processing, online registration and association management verticals. Steve has over 20 years of experience in technology-enabled financial services. Prior to being named CEO, Steve held executive roles at several Fortune 500 companies.



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