5 Principles for Building Better Partnerships

Nobody succeeds in a silo. To survive and ultimately thrive we must effectively create partnerships with many around us.

5 Principles for Building Better Partnerships
[Image: Flickr user Nomadic Lass]

It doesn’t matter what we do, where we do it, or how well we create a product or offer a service. We don’t succeed without the right people on our teams.


I have come to believe that to survive and ultimately thrive we must effectively create “partnerships” with many around us, from family to colleagues to society in general.

Here are five fundamental principles I have learned to build better partnerships with others:

1. Be Direct.

Direct communication leads to direction, the path you set as a leader. Even if it was possible, nobody wants to follow a muddled message. Every word must be deliberate and directed. Don’t be tempted to reach out without direction because that can deter or even destroy your overall agenda.

If you can’t say something clearly and directly, wait until you can articulate it to yourself. Talk may be cheap, but it can be worthless if uttered without direction and even cost you a client, a deal, or your whole business. A direct message is priceless: as E. B. White writes in the timeless Elements of Style: Every word must tell.

2. Think Ahead.

No matter how successful you are, you won’t continue on that golden path if you stop anticipating what’s next, which is a job too big to do on your own. You need to surround yourself with forward thinkers. Make sure your people are ready for changes, even the most unprecedented challenges. Changes are constant. Since you can know that what you’re doing today will be wrong tomorrow, you need to forge trusting, resilient teams, a constellation of partnerships.

3. Inspire and Influence.

The most successful leaders are able to inspire and influence everyone: their executive team, employees, customers, clients, partners, investors, and many others. Inspiration cannot happen without clear communication. You have to show people you’re a person too.


Success can quickly inflate egos to the point of isolation of leadership and alienation of those who are most critical to your ongoing ability to survive and thrive. The best and brightest will be toppled if they can’t inspire others. It takes a dynamic person with a positive, honest, forward-looking attitude to inspire and influence the people involved in building and growing enterprises and communities.

4. Create a Community.

Like any community, a healthy ecosystem must be nurtured to achieve continual success. A sustainable ecosystem is the structure you form around yourself. Those interconnections allow you to bring in individuals and groups, exposing you and your team to ideas and perspectives you wouldn’t have encountered otherwise, allowing for cross-pollination.

5. Think Long Term.

Although it may feel counterintuitive, to thrive within a volatile world, leaders must be aware of the present moment while simultaneously setting their sights on long-term goals: purpose must be a part of the present. Since value creation is qualitative as well as quantitative, no metric can completely capture success. Volatity isn’t to be avoided, it’s to be cooperated with. Which requires the resilience provided by mindfulness, and the buoyancy provided by partnership.

It doesn’t matter how smart or savvy we are when it comes to technology, product development or any single skill. Nobody succeeds in a silo. Whatever we venture–personal, professional, philanthropic, political, or private–we must remember the people involved in and essential to our success. Learn from our own mistakes and mastery, and learn from the people around us: those we admire now and those we may learn from just by listening. We never know whom we may inspire or influence, or who may inspire and influence us. Today’s stranger may be tomorrow’s partner.

Adapted from EVERYTHING CONNECTS: How To Transform And Lead In The Age Of Creativity, Innovation And Sustainability (McGraw Hill, 2014) by Faisal Hoque with Drake Baer. Copyright (c) 2014 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved.


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