COLLABORATION MEANS PLAYING ONE GAME, WITH UNIQUE SKILLS
There’s more to collaboration than diplomacy and contribution. Collaborative leaders know how to address tough topics, too.
The word ‘collaboration’ conjures images of being kind, helpful and considerate to others, appreciating other people’s contributions and building on them; basically, being a good leader and a team member, but it’s only half the truth.
Collaboration in a leadership context also has a hard edge: putting the needs of others ahead of your own even if your own target is compromised.
Most teams might not be ready to talk about this side of collaboration and the corresponding behaviors. It requires a certain level of discipline and grit from leaders. But if you learn to combine the soft and hard facets of collaboration, an essential skill for a balanced leadership style, you’ll build productive, lasting business relationships.
Tough issues will arise – it’s only a question of when. The stronger the relationship, the easier it is for a leader to have challenging conversations with the team. It won’t change the rules of the game: Everyone will play as one team to reach one goal.
Good leaders clarify goals
You and your team are part of a bigger ecosystem with a shared goal. If you watch small kids play football, you’ll notice they are all chasing the ball at the same time. The game tends to be slow. The kids aren’t playing their positions – they’re playing the ball, and having fun.
Watch a national team play at the World Cup and you’ll notice each player stays in position, knows their role, and is constantly aware of their team mates. If they don’t, the manager will make the decision to substitute them so the goal isn’t compromised.
When you’re clear on the roles and responsibilities of each team member, all you have to do is stick to the plan. Trust your players to know their roles, master their own position, and follow the game plan.
A thoughtful leader makes decisions with others
Informed decisions are made in a transparent manner. Always be ready to share your logic and thinking with other people. Only by welcoming other people’s ideas can you evolve your creative and critical thinking. Don’t scheme in the dark.
If you’re transparent about your work and goals as a leader, then people can understand and contribute to them. True collaboration means getting other people involved in decision making to drive the best possible outcome.
Relationships are the foundation of leadership
The value of any organization comes from its relationships. It’s everyone’s responsibility – not just that of leaders – to build and nurture productive relationships.
Did you meet someone new this week? How will you stay in touch and deepen the connection? By proactively seeking out and working on new relationships you will promote diverse thinking and encourage creativity in your team, while learning and growing as a leader.
The formula is the same as with any relationship, business or personal: Stay in touch, exchange thoughts and ideas, give and take to build trust. Essentially, talk a lot, but listen more.
Collaboration Checklist for Leaders
Collaboration in the traditional sense means being a good leader and a team member. But it also has a hard edge: putting the needs of others ahead of your own. By combining the two facets, you’ll build lasting business relationships and find tough issues easier to tackle.
Establish clear shared goals, trust your players to know their roles, and stick to the game plan.
Provide transparency. Share your thinking and logic with others, and involve them in decision making.
Build and nurture productive relationships, the backbone of every winning organization.