The key relationships for any business leader

Business success isn’t easy to achieve, and it’s even harder when you’re going it alone. Every leader needs to build a network of individuals who fill key relationship roles.

How valuable are these connections? In a recent survey of more than 700 participants, business leaders with mentors increased their business revenue by 83 percent; mentorless businesses gained only 16 percent in the same period.

So who do you need to be in your corner?

Although you might be great at connecting with your team at work, you need to branch out beyond your company or field to find new support. Think about everyone in your life who plays a pivotal part in helping you get from today to tomorrow. Ideally, you should have each of the following personalities in your corner:

  1. The supporter

Doesn’t everyone deserve to look to the sidelines and see someone cheering them on? When the chips are down, this person says “Everything’s going to be OK” and makes the tough stuff easier. He or she is excited for your achievements and urges you to work hard — and this verbal encouragement will help you achieve your goals, just as it can help athletes perform better.

  1. The mentor

When you’re growing a business, you need someone you can call who has navigated similar hurdles. Find a person who exhibits the traits you covet, and ask him or her to be your mentor. If you can engage at least once a month to share ideas and get advice, you’ll start to see your confidence and business acumen soar. Just ask Bill Gates: He credits his mentor. Warren Buffett with teaching him to change the way he thinks and with igniting his interest in philanthropy.

  1. The foxhole buddy

The foxhole buddy is someone you can count on to be with you day in and day out. You need a partner who will have your back every day and whose skills complement your own. Consider the partnership between Steve Job and Steve Wozniak, co-founders of Apple: Wozniak was the mastermind behind the tech giant’s first offerings, while Jobs focused on building the future of the company. Wozniak has often said that a combination of technological expertise and business acumen like theirs is key to overall success.

You and your foxhole buddy should be the “yin” to each other’s “yang,” able to combine forces and make an unstoppable team. Make sure you’re both headed toward the same goal and focused on the same future so you can get there together.

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