The truth is that not all relationships--professional or personal--are good investments of your time and energy.
For entrepreneurs especially, partnerships require a lot of energy, focus, and commitment. A certain sense of calm clarity and mutual respect is necessary to make these relationships--and your business--function successfully.
But when partnerships turn toxic, objectivity is compromised, perspective is hard to find, and any mutual or company progress becomes virtually impossible. Instead, a leader is more likely to feel weighed down by professional negativity and anxiety, which can lead to a loss of self-confidence and reduced productivity--and can even bring the business to a grinding halt.
That type of energy is lethal to the success of an entrepreneur. Ask yourself: If a business relationship is toxic and having these effects on your work, is it really worth it?
Part of being a great leader is assessing your own situation at work. Although suffering through the breakdown of a partnership is never fun, ending a relationship riddled with chaos, angst, or mistrust is sometimes a necessary step to save both your business and your sanity.
After all, life is too short to work with people who are toxic or who otherwise drive you crazy.
Maybe you're in a business relationship that creates more drama than value. If so, consider saying goodbye and jettisoning some of that professional baggage.
Here are a few signs that you should nip a problematic partnership in the bud:
1. Someone has lied or threatened your company's reputation. The foundation of any partnership is a sense of mutual benefit and respect. When this disappears and the health of your company is at stake, it's better to leave the relationship behind.
Take the departure of Facebook's former president, Sean Parker, for example. Although he did a lot of good for the company, issues in his private life bled into Facebook's image, and investors worried about damage to the brand. In the end, Parker and the company parted ways.
Was it ideal for Facebook to lose someone who was such an asset to its growth? Probably not, but keeping Parker on board amid scandal and legal problems was too much of a liability (or perceived to be at the time). When bad behavior becomes a pattern or an incident is unacceptable, you sometimes have no choice but to pull the plug.
2. There is little communication or accountability. The success of any relationship is built on open communication. Through direct interaction, you can easily get a feel for people and the way they work. You want to work with people who can accept blame, take responsibility for a problem, and seek remedies.
To gauge what effect a relationship has on your company, start by asking questions: Is this someone you really want to work with? Is this person reliable and trustworthy? Can she execute what was promised in a reasonable time frame?
The questions are very gut-level and intuition-based, but it's important to check in with yourself--and do it honestly--for the sake of your business and your own well-being.
3. A basic lack of fit becomes apparent. If a partner's vision, behavior, and work ethic don't align with your values, protocol, and other important standards, it's likely the relationship won't produce any demonstrable benefits.
When someone fails to fully participate in your culture of teamwork, it undermines the goals of the entire organization. It's better to make a clean break sooner than to deal with mental and professional strain later.
Making Hard Choices Benefits Everyone
Breaking up with a business partner doesn't have to be painful--for you or the partner. When Steve Jobs was pushed out of Apple, he found far more success after his Pixar acquisition and Apple's eventual purchase of his NeXT computer company--you know the rest.
Deciding whether to continue or eliminate a partnership requires staying aware of how it affects you and your business. In general, it comes down to following your own good judgment.
Business is business, not group therapy. You're not obligated to continue working with someone who isn't performing well or is struggling to fall in line with your company ethos.
In the end, a professional breakup could be the best thing to ever happen to you, just as it was for Jobs.