Building Better Partnerships

Brad Lomenick: Want to grow your organization, product or initiative? Cultivate the fine art of colloaboration.

Partnerships and collaboration are crucial to getting things done in today’s culture. And great organizations partner well. If you want to grow your organization, project or initiative, then finding, building and sustaining great partnerships has to be part of your plan. Here are a few thoughts as you consider the possibilities.

Partnerships create innovation and allow you to share risk and reward. Working with others allows for input from outside your normal team members, which can lead to breakthroughs.

Collaboration and partnership should be the norm in the church, because we are in the business of Kingdom building. We should be celebrating the leader across town instead of finding ways to make them look bad to others, even when veiled as a call to “pray” for them.

Ministries and churches have to work harder to create partnerships. Collaboration seems more common in the business world. In contrast, ministries and churches generally don’t partner well. They feel so strongly about their own vision they end up inadvertently neglecting the greater vision of the global church. Understanding the scale of your vision versus that larger vision is incredibly important in making a strong statement of unity.

Generosity is the new currency in our culture. Sharing is in. The business world and our culture in general continue to move toward open source, shared influence and collaborative projects. But collaboration often involves sacrifice. Are we willing to endure some measure of loss for the sake of greater gains?

Good partnerships start with a deep knowledge of one another. Know your partners well before entering into collaboration—and allow your partner to know you. Authenticity is crucial to achieving long-term impact.

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Find the win/win. Partnering well means combining efforts to achieve something greater together than what can be done separately. To define the win/win, build on each other’s strengths rather than just trying to improve a weakness.

Enjoy the process. Partnerships don’t have to mean friendships, but default toward those organizations and leaders with whom you have much in common, and whose company you enjoy.

Foster a “we mentality.” Partnerships thrive when personal agendas are set aside. Organizations built around dominant personalities usually don’t partner well, but effective leaders model collaboration. If the influencers collaborate, others will follow.

At the same time, good fences make for good partnerships. Spell out the details on paper. Partnership grows best in an environment of mutually understood expectations. Who has initiative for what? What are the guidelines for working together? What will success look like? Clearly define these things up front.

Don’t be afraid to work with those you are “competing” against. Have you noticed that Christian leaders and organizations are not immune to jealousy? Don’t we sometimes envy others’ success? A competitive nature can quickly kill any impulse to collaborate. So what’s the antidote to competition? Celebration. If you aspire to be a collaborative leader, learn the grace of celebrating your competition. Offer praise and encouragement. Send notes, make congratulatory calls, pay a visit, pray for them.

Unity means agreement around “The One Thing.” Most people think unity is coming to agreement on everything. Not true. Unity is finding agreement on one thing and focusing on that. There may still be areas of disagreement, but in the church, Jesus is our One Thing.

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Church leaders, we’re all on the same team. Let’s act like it. If we truly wish to reach our mission with the greatest velocity possible, we have to work together.

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Brad Lomenick

Brad Lomenick is Executive Director and key Visionary of Catalyst, a movement of young leaders. Over the last 15 years, he has built a reputation as a key networker and convener of leaders. Prior to running Catalyst, Brad was involved in the growth of the nationally acclaimed [email protected] Magazine and did management consulting with Cornerstone Group. More recently he has served in a number of roles for INJOY and now GiANT Impact. For several years after college, he rode horses for a living on a ranch in Colorado, and was even struck by lightning while installing a barbed wire fence, which some believe has given him powers equal to several of the Super Heroes. He hopes maybe someday he can be a professional golfer, or have his own hunting show.