Women’s Leadership Coaching for Successful Business Partnerships

  1. Women’s Leadership Coaching for Successful Business Partnerships
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Women’s Leadership Coaching for Successful Business Partnerships

Discover why most business partnerships fail and how to avoid failure, so you can be the successful woman business owner and leader you want to be. This article includes an extensive list of questions all potential business partners should consider before engaging in a partnership, plus a case study of how Leadership Coaching transformed a fragile partnership into a thriving enterprise. The return on investment (ROI) of Women’s Business Leadership coaching is over 500%. It will help you prevent leadership problems while addressing existing challenges.

Why Do Up to 70% of Business Partnerships Fail?

Many partnerships are formed because friends or family members have a business idea that sounds like it could be valuable, lucrative or fun. Sometimes, neither partner has taken the time to first answer questions that should be carefully considered before a single investment is made.


  • Will a career as a partner in this business be an ideal fit for each person in the long-term or at least the next 10 years?
  • Will the job responsibilities of each partner be consistent with their true strengths, needs, personalities, credentials and training?
  • Do the partners have a compatible work ethic?
  • What will ensure that each partner trusts that the other partner is an equal contributor who makes excellent decisions?
  • Are the partner’s skill sets complimentary?
  • If they are duplicate, how will they avoid power and control issues?
  • Have the partners identified their personality types and addressed inherent power and control issues that exist when certain personality types engage in business partnerships?
  • Given the skill sets of each potential partner, identify the gaps in skills. How will the partnership address these deficiencies so the partnership doesn’t deteriorate?
  • Does each person have adequate resources to equally capitalize their new business, no matter how the economy performs? If not, how will the partners ensure that both partners are equal contributors?
  • What proof do the partners have that they are not only a good working team, they also efficiently resolve conflicts that inevitably arise in any partnership?
  • Do both partners have the skills required to use conflicts in positive ways that result in enhanced self-awareness and business growth?
  • How can both partners ensure the separation of their personal and business relationship so they can more easily resolve business challenges and prioritize the health of the business?
  • Has a market analysis confirmed that expectations of success are reasonable?
  • What are the long-term business mission and vision of each potential partner? How can those be effectively blended to become a mutual business mission and vision that guides them forward?
  • How will the business thrive when intense competition, an economic recession, regulatory changes and other uncertainties occur?
  • What is each partner’s exit strategy?
  • What succession plan will ensure stability?
  • If a buyout can be triggered by a single partner who wants to leave or becomes dissatisfied, what is the process for ensuring that the partnership is stable and the possibility of a triggered buyout doesn’t become a mechanism of control or manipulation?

Diving into a business without thoughtfully answering the above questions (and more) is an example of the trial-and-error career exploration and business planning process, which is common in the U.S. The rules are simple: Try a career or job. If you don’t like it, find another job or create a different business. If your next adventure still doesn’t work, explore a new career or start another business. Keep trusting that you’ll eventually stumble into a good fit for you.

Even though playing the trial-and-error game could possibly produce a successful business or career if you’re remarkably lucky, at least 70% of partnerships fail and the vast majority of employees are unhappy or disengaged at work. As if failure isn’t painful enough when you’ve invested a good deal of your life savings, time and energy in a failing business and then you’re forced to search for a better career match, most people who fail in a partnership deplete their confidence and alienate their business partner. This person usually entered the partnership as a loyal friend or family member. That relationship rarely fully recovers from the business trauma. This unfortunate event is unnecessary. (I previously wrote about this in a different article.)

Prevent Predictable Business Failures So You Can Create Business Success

The bullet list above illustrates a partial list of proven ways to determine possible strengths and weaknesses when two people explore a potential partnership. Let’s explore an example of two partners I coached. Although the two individuals had complimentary skill sets, their personality types predicted an inherent conflict related to significant skills gaps. When they asked me to coach them, their partnership was failing because they hadn’t conducted proactive pre-planning that could have prevented a very serious problem that almost cost them their business.

This case study demonstrates that, even when partners’ skill sets are complementary, there will sometimes be differences of opinion regarding how to fill a skills gap and how to work together. The partnership in this case study included one extroverted partner who was highly skilled and experienced in public relations, business promotion and sales. He spent most of his time traveling to promote the company and its vision. He enjoyed being on the road showing company products at trade shows and to potential investors. He was out of office over 80% of the time.

The other partner was an introvert who was delighted to serve as Chief Financial Officer. He enjoyed sitting in his quiet office meticulously analyzing and managing finances and related company operations. Happy to churn out reports for the company Board, investors and the bank, he wasn’t interested in spending time roaming the facility engaging with employees, seeking and providing feedback or in other ways interacting with employees on the ground.

The partners asked me to coach them because of serious interpersonal conflicts and because neither of the partners was interested in nurturing one of their most precious assets, their employees. The partners had failed to explore this major gap in their own skill sets. Their failure to compensate for their inability and disinterest in employee coaching and training had created low employee morale, disengaged workers and a serious slump in profits.

As problems intensified, disagreements related to their diverse personality types led to resentment and verbal explosions. The introverted partner reminded the extroverted partner, “You always knew I only wanted to focus on finances and operations. It’s my area of expertise. I keep the bank, investors and the Board happy. That’s a huge job. I never said I’d change my personality and mix with the crowds like you do. It’s not who I am.”

The extroverted partner angrily countered, “You always knew I’d be the person on the road, bringing in most of the cash for you to manage. Unless you find a way to coach and train our people, I’ll have to trigger a buyout. You need me more than I need you! I thought we were friends. I thought I could trust you.”

How Leadership Coaching Can Save a Failing Partnership

When I coached the partners, both described an emotional roller coaster filled with resentments that had been festering for over a year. The entire situation could have been prevented if the potential partners had carefully explored the bullet list in the first of this article.

During their coaching sessions, the two partners began to understand how their dramatically different personalities could actually become highly beneficial to their company. I coached them about many topics, including:

  • Identifying skills gaps that required immediate and ongoing attention because the gaps were destroying employee morale and profits
  • Clarifying their business mission
  • Developing their long-term business vision
  • Identifying what triggered each of them because their personality types were dramatically different
  • Clarifying responsibilities and the chain of command
  • Determining how to prevent power differences and gender inequities
  • Discovering how to transform their different strengths into sources of organizational health
  • Learning and consistently practicing conflict resolution strategies consistent with their business needs and their personality types
  • Creating their 5-year and their 10-year business plans
  • Modifying the partnership agreement with specific attention to the buy-out clause and exit plan
  • Clarifying each partner’s job responsibilities to ensure balanced contributions and effective decision-making
  • Repairing the partner’s friendship
  • Consistently reconnecting with each other to ensure trust and avoid unnecessary conflicts and problems in the future

It has now been over 10 years since leadership coaching helped the partners transform their fragile partnership into the thriving organization it is today. Although it took several years for their friendship to recover and parts of the process were painful, both partners agree the results were worth all of their efforts.

The Proven Value of Leadership Coaching for Women Partners and Other Female Business Owners

The ROI (return on investment) of Women’s Leadership Coaching is over 500%. I help women business owners and leaders in all types of industries, partnerships and nonprofits prevent and resolve leadership challenges, including those specific to women in male-dominated industries.

Click here to complete a short application so I can contact you for a complimentary 20-minute consultation. If we decide we’re a good fit as client and coach, we’ll discuss a coaching agreement. I’m looking forward to getting to know you and being of assistance.

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. as interviewed on “The Today Show,” CNN and NPR. Certified Master Leadership and Executive Coach Doris Helge is author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job,” Doris has helped hundreds of leaders like you meet every challenge you’re facing. Click here to view examples of solutions to women’s leadership dilemmas and sign up for your complimentary Leadership Coaching Consultation.

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About the Author

Doris Helge

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. at www.WomensLeadershipTips.com Doris Helge, Ph.D., MCC is a Certified Master Executive Leadership Coach and author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job.” Click here now to sign up for your complimentary Leadership Coaching Consultation.

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