Collaboration. It is one of those words that is being tossed around quit a bit in business and in the nonprofit world. We are opening up to the idea of collaboration as we realize the problems we are trying to solve, are more complex than ever before. And finding solutions, as well as continuing to innovate, requires the coming together of diverse minds and sharing skills, talents and resources (financial and human). Many leaders are seeking employees who are "collaborators", but where does one learn that skill? I hear many people say, "Oh, I worked on a team project. I did the marketing piece". Well, maybe that was collaborative. But maybe it was simply a group of people working individually toward a specific outcome. In that team work model, frequently mistaken as collaboration, much of the potential is never experienced.
True collaboration exists when:
Individuals are in touch with, confident in and share their greatest strengths freely for the greater good.
Are equally in touch with areas they are less strong and seek out, embrace and celebrate those strengths in others.
Are able to recognize when ego or need for acknowledgment is driving decision making.
Time for sharing and discussing feelings related to the project or collaboration is valued as much as "doing" work.
There is room for unexpected outcomes to be explored.
Individuals Understand that you can't give what you don't have and are willing to work on their own issues or behaviors.
Giving and receiving feedback is a norm and is practiced.
Reflection is a tool for continued improvement.
Individuals embrace the idea that "if you spot it, you got it" and look inside first before making judgements about the behaviors of others.
There is courage to ask clarifying questions before making assumptions.
Many times when I'm involved with teams or groups who are struggling with a collaborative project, I witness a great deal of finger pointing. "This project didn't fly because THEY didn't ..."
I contend that if each individual is willing to look inward first, to be open to the idea that we are each our own leader and willingly bring our best self to the table, we can then engage fully as collaborators. If we come to the table with an outward focus, checking and watching everyone else's stuff, the collaboration will not achieve its full potential.
Interested in achieving more authentic collaboration? Contact me to learn more.