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The Power of Partnerships

By Kristin Withrow posted 05-12-2022 09:49 AM

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By Neil McCormick, CEO California Special Districts Association

At CSDA we work hard at building partnerships to bring the best in advocacy, professional development, and member benefits to all CSDA members. We also work hard to make sure our partners feel valued and are benefiting from the relationship.


Recently, CSDA has worked through some changes and updates related to a few of our partnerships. Some initiated by us, and some by the partners. It’s been an eye-opening experience and a firm reminder that it’s important to keep in mind what a true business partner looks like and what the expectations should be. In my mind, some of the core characteristics of great business partners include being:


  • Supportive – Not every project, effort, month, or year is going to be the best. There will be ups and downs just like any relationship. Support each other and be prepared to adjust as needed to keep focused on why you first came to work together.
  • Collaborative – There will be pain points along the way. Share in the successful and less successful moments. Discuss challenges and opportunities regularly. Together, develop options for moving forward and compromise with the big picture in mind.
  • Transparent – Significant changes to the partnership should not be a surprise to any of the partners. Being open, communicating often, and ensuring your partner is looped in on key decisions is extremely important.
  • Goal Focused - Stick to what you agreed to. When you’ve achieved or exceeded goals, celebrate and work for even greater collective success. Don’t independently change the goal markers on a partner just because things are going really well, not great, or it’s costing more money, time, etc. Remember you wanted the collective goals when you came together as partners.
  • Future Focused – Most strong partnerships aren’t developed to last just a few months or even years. Embrace the long-term to envision what you hope the partnership to look like in the future with a focus on being mutually successful in meeting whatever goals you have established.


For CSDA, I’m grateful that the changes and updates in partnerships have happened - because they will ultimately result in stronger programs and benefits for our members. Stay tuned for some really exciting new program announcements, developed through partnerships, in the coming months!