You don’t lead in a vacuum.

Successful organizations are built with the blood, sweat and tears of many partners – mentors, coaches, employees, clients and vendors. Choosing the right partners to support the company vision becomes a key part of the success.

As with all important decisions, finding the right partners requires a process: first you must assess what you want from a partner and how that relationship can provide value for you, for them and for your organization. By determining your goals from such a partnership, you can begin to ask questions that will verify alignment between potential partners, their goals and your own. Utilize testimonials and references – personal and professional – to get a complete profile.

Do they complement you?

Unfortunately, the downside to certain analytics tools and algorithms match you with like-minded and homogeneous connections, whether they be people or information or opinions. While goals should be aligned, diversity of thought and opinion has greater value in making decisions. The broader the expertise and knowledge, the better the coverage of potential risk factors and potential obstacles than a single mind or train of thought can provide.

If your company is filled with variations of yourself, you are limiting the creativity and innovation opportunities to build and develop the organization.

Do they challenge you?

As an entrepreneur, who is inherently driven forward, and as a visionary, who sees opportunity at every turn, you can become distracted from the leadership necessities of the operation. Other leaders may become paralyzed from growth by increasing responsibility and the fear of failing – both yourself and those who depend on you.

The right partner will not let you be guided down wrong pathways. They will point out folly and push you when your own psyche is holding you back. They can help you overcome these challenges by providing a new lens of vision. They can help to share responsibility and allow you to focus on the important, versus urgent, business roles to improve and grow.

Do they support you?

Alignment to the vision is paramount to achieving success. Initiatives live or die by the focus and support they are given. When decisions are made, the right partner becomes your lieutenant to help communicate the expectations, marshalling team buy-in and directing collaboration to properly execute. They become champions of the process and add their voice in support of the change behavior.

Partners are essential to your company’s success. They can be found throughout the stakeholders in your company. The more partners you have and partnerships you develop, the stronger your foundation and credibility will become. When you treat your relationships with your colleagues, subordinates, coaches (both internally and externally) as partnerships, you unlock greater opportunities.