Unveiling Authentic Collaboration: Recognising the Essence of True Partnership

3 min 24 August 2023

By Simon Walker, Director

Having a true partner can make all the difference. But how do you know whether you’re in a real partnership? Simon Walker outlines the nine key markers to identify a true partner relationship.

In business, having a true partner can make all the difference. When two parties come together and work as a team, amazing things will happen.

But how do you know if you’re in a real partnership or just a regular customer/supplier relationship? In this article, we’ll look at the key markers that indicate whether you have a true partner relationship.

Open Communication

When you have a true partner, it feels totally comfortable when openly and honestly discussing any issues that arise. You are both willing to listen to each other’s concerns and provide collaborative, constructive feedback.  Even if the status quo is challenged, new ideas are encouraged and embraced.

Shared Vision

True partners have a shared vision.  Both parties are working towards the same goals, with a clear and mutual understanding of what success looks like. Together, you co-author a vision and work towards achieving it, with both parties willing to compromise and adjust, when required, to achieve a common goal.

Collaborative Decision-Making

In a true partnership, decisions are made collaboratively. Both parties have input and find solutions that work for everyone, with flexibility and willingness to adjust their approach when needed. This also means everyone is willing to take risks and try new things, even if there is no guarantee they will work.


Trust is essential in any partnership. Feeling like you can trust your partner to always have your best interests at heart is a good sign. A true partner should be transparent and honest in their dealings with you, which can mean being willing to admit mistakes and take responsibility when things may not go as planned.


Flexibility is very important in a true partnership. If your partner is willing to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances, it is a positive sign that they are in for the long haul and are willing to work with you to find solutions that work for both parties. They recognise when circumstances may have changed, and it is necessary to adapt and not be overly rigid in their approach.

Aligned Values

A true partnership should also have aligned values, with both parties sharing similar ethical standards and a similar approach to doing business. Having these aligned values ensures that both parties are working towards a common goal and helps to build trust.

Long-Term Perspective

True partners are there for the long-term. This means thinking beyond the immediate project or engagement and looking towards a long-term, symbiotic and synergistic relationship. A true partner should be willing to invest in the partnership over the long-term and be committed to its success.

Continuous Improvement

Both parties should be committed to learning, growing and continually improving together; willing to make changes to improve the partnership. This means being open to feedback and modification as needed to ensure that the partnership is successful.

Everybody Wins

Finally, a true partnership is one where everybody wins. Both parties should benefit from the partnership and get value from it. A true partner will be invested in your success and willing to work with you to achieve it, even if it means making sacrifices and taking on extra work to help you achieve your goals.

A true partnership is a valuable business asset. The markers of authenticity – open communication, shared vision, collaborative decision-making, trust, shared values, long-term dedication, continuous growth, and the ‘everybody wins’ ethos – allow us to identify the line between association and genuine partnership.

Remember, a true partner is invested in your success and is willing to work with you to achieve it. When you find a true partner, hold on tight to them and together you will achieve great things.