Someone suggested to me yesterday that the secret to a great business partnership is compromise. I could not disagree more. While I agree compromise is sometimes useful, there are many times when compromise produces at best a mediocre result and at disaster. There are times when one person’s position is essentially correct. Compromise here is like singing a bad melody in perfect harmony. Little snippets may sound good but it’s unlikely to produce a hit record.

A great business partnership is not about harmony for harmony’s sake. It’s about producing a wining business capable of outpacing its competition. If two or more partners are to thrive in their common enterprise, there needs to be one essential agreement between them… to set their egos aside and seek the optimization of their business’s performance wherever that legally and ethically takes them.

So then how do they work together? How do they settle disagreements? How do they avoid power block or gridlock? How do they get the visceral satisfaction that is perhaps the reason they went into business in the first place? It starts by adopting a set of shared values that fosters productive behavior by each partner and determines how they relate to each other whatever the task at hand. At the end of this blog post, I have included the set of values at the heart of my new Relight America™ project. If you would have a great partnership, establishing them as the core values of your partnership could serve you well.

Next, attitude is key. “My way or the highway” is akin to “wrong way on the freeway.” No matter how cool your car, it goes to the scrap heap after the crash. Unless you have partnered with a bumbling ignoramus, assume your partner is capable of sorting out their internal and external conflicts when provided with facts and a compelling argument. Adopt an attitude that your partner is intelligent and will accede to reason. Then, enthusiastically take on the burden to persuade.

This brings us to the next essential element in building a great partnership… leadership. Master your personal power while abdicating your position power. Assemble the facts. Set out the logic in support of your position. State your argument in a respectful manner. Apply patience and tenacity over some reasonable amount of time. Proceed with the conviction that sanity will prevail.

When I have formed partnerships in the past, there were two factors that consistently allowed for good relationships and positive results. One was the “No Rule.” The other was common sense distribution of responsibility and authority.

First, the “No Rule.” This rule simply states… “In the event of disagreement, the No rules.” While this appears to give the dissenting partner a veto power over the other partner(s), it’s actually quite productive when the second part of the rule is applied…“No is honored but never final.” With the attitude and actions stated above and the values stated at the end of this post, over a reasonable amount of time, the optimum actions most often prevail. What’s more, they are fully supported by all of the partners.

Next, acknowledge that you and your partner(s) went into business together for a reason. It probably started with a shared vision or purpose. It then proceeded with the realization that you each had different core competencies, skill sets, resources and experiences that when brought together could produce a winning business. If you divide up the responsibilities accordingly and leave each partner to act with authority in the area of their strength, there will not be much to disagree about.

Lastly, give each other permission to evoke the “Timeout for Alignment Rule.” Simply stated, when a partner’s behavior or action is not in alignment with the agreed upon values and principles, any of the other partners has standing permission to stop the discussion and bring to the attention of the offending partner how their behavior or action is out of alignment. Then seek agreement on re-alignment before attempting to resolve the matter at hand. With all of the partners in alignment and centered, a workable resolution is a probability.

For all this to make perfect sense, take a few minutes to digest the Relight America™ values mentioned earlier in this post and which immediately follow this paragraph. Then think about how, by adopting them into your business, you could increase your results. They are stated here in the form of a pledge that when honored dramatically increases your results with everyone inside and outside of your company. Living them puts you, your partners and your company into integrity with each other, your employees, your suppliers and your customers. You are positioned for stellar success.

Relight America™ Values

Truthfulness – I will be truthful, acting with honesty and integrity, with everyone inside and outside of my company. I will honor truth when spoken to me by others and not misuse or abuse information given to me by those honoring their own pledge to be truthful.

Fair Dealing – I will treat every other pledge signer as my valued neighbor and ally. I will seek fundamental fairness in each exchange of value I have with others whether they are employees or employers, customers or suppliers, company owners or investors.

Openness and Accessibility – I will remain open to new ideas and seek to walk freely down paths to personal and business growth. I welcome questions from everyone I interact with and pledge to be as forthcoming as my abilities permit with answers and solutions.

Mutual Respect – I acknowledge the human dignity of each person, no matter their walk of life, no matter their level in an organization and will treat each person in such manner as they feel recognized, valued and honored for who they are and for their contribution.

Collaboration – I embrace collaboration and cooperation as the means to an abundant future where productivity is highest when we act in concert with others. Whether it’s masterminding a solution or physically cooperating for a common goal, I acknowledge that none of us is as strong as all of us. I will rise to the highest level of my ability when participating with others and seek to share credit with others according to each person’s contribution. I will be accountable for my actions and accepting of the consequences good and bad.

I acknowledge my own human faults and frailties as well as the human faults and frailties of other pledge signers. I will strive to perfect my behavior and expect the most from myself and others. I will also be tolerant and forgiving of my own shortcomings and the shortcomings of others for any single occurrence. Only a pattern of behavior over time shall render me or others out of our mutual good graces.

With these values, I commit to be a force for growth, prosperity and harmony for myself, my family, my friends, my peers, my community and my country.

Values work best when they are shared. Share this post with a friend or associate.


What to do when your partner won’t compromise saying My Way or the Highway? Get the answer on my blog



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Gordon Bizar

Gordon Bizar - Expert Business Buyer and Finance Coach Gordon simplifies business purchasing and financing. He makes understandable the use of financial leverage to start, buy or build any business with little or none of your own cash. His unique expertise and success track record has led to his appearances on NBC's Today Show, PBS's Late Night America along with segments on more than 120 other radio and TV news and talk shows. He has been featured in articles in more than 25 of the nation’s leading newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. Gordon personally bought and built companies in fields as diverse as manufacturing, financial services and business education. He also served as Chairman of the California Task Force on Taxation and Regulation of Small Business during the Brown administration and is sought after as a consultant by businesses large and small and government agencies such as NASA for their technology transfer program.

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