Secrets to Successful Partnerships

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-by Matt Leedham

I read an article the other day on about successful business partnerships. They talk about the “secrets to success” of famous business partnerships. They highlight that most partnerships fizzle out (or crash and burn), but there are few famous examples of partnerships that have thrived for years. It’s a short, interesting read and I enjoyed the analysis of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, and Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger (who I’ve seen live a couple times at the Berkshire-Hathaway Annual Meeting).

What’s not so surprising though, is that the “secrets” of a successful business partnership sound eerily similar to the long-standing foundations of a successful marriage, or a successful friendship, or a successful employee-manager relationship. What are these secrets?

Drum roll please…

Trust – this doesn’t refer to obvious issues of trust, like embezzlement, as much as it refers to each partner knowing that the other is 100% invested in the partnership.

Mutual Respect – the understanding that one partner cannot achieve nearly as much without the unique talents and gifts of the other.

Shared Vision and Values – this is a long-term understanding of what is important to each partner and both believing in the ultimate goal of the partnership.

Honest and Open Communication – they actually say in the article that “taking on a partner is like taking on a spouse.” Any partnership depends on truth and open dialog.

Shocking, right?

Whether you are an entrepreneur, manager, or have significant personal and business relationships, how do you think this applies to you?

What I find is that many personal and business partnerships have trust and respect, and work hard at open communication because they know how important that is. But in reality, many partnerships are missing the shared vision and values.

Does your partner/employee/manager/spouse clearly understand what you value and what you want long-term? Is this an area of opportunity for you to gain clarity and share your thoughts?

Don’t wait to share your vision and values – life’s too short to keep it to yourself!

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