Collaboration is a big deal around Vestalia, we’re going to give it some attention this month.
I want to kick things off by recognizing that within our organization there has been some confusion about when to be in collaboration, and even some pushback against being in it. Ever find yourself wondering if collaboration is the only way to make decisions or get things done, or thinking that it takes way too long/it’d be quicker and easier to do stuff yourself? This article shines some light in those areas, and illuminates why it gets the focus it does in our leadership culture.
Thank you for your interest in this subject and time spent reading about it. I’m open to any and all feedback, please send your thoughts my way.
Thanks again! -Becky
By Becky Lemon, 5/8/19
For years now Vestalia, and me as the primary “trainer” of all things leadership, have sent a strong message to leaders that collaboration is the preferred way to get things done within the organization. Over that period of time I’ve gotten feedback from some leaders that the message may have been too strong; that it felt like an expectation and they therefore felt pressured to always collaborate. When they decided not to, they reported sometimes feeling guilty or having a need to “hide” that they went about something on their own or in a way that wasn’t strictly collaborative. I was thankful to hear this feedback because top-down direction, guilt, and hiding is not what we’re after. Knowing that it landed this way for some gives me a chance to be in this conversation with people (face-to-face and via your screen) and get new, shared understanding about collaboration.
Collaboration is not the only route to take to get things done. Sometimes conditions like expertise, ability, capability, and time factor into situations that make collaboration an ineffective choice. It is my intention that each leader is aware of the benefits of collaboration, why and how it supports the shared, facilitative leadership style that we practice, and what goes into making it satisfying and effective for everyone. If we all have that, the expectation is that whenever leaders are in a position to decide how to move a project or creative conversation forward they hold collaboration as a viable choice and select it if it’s the best direction to go in. When it comes down to it, it’s our job as leaders to try stuff and fail, try and succeed, and learn from each of those experiences. This also applies to how we utilize (or don’t utilize) collaboration.
While not an exhaustive list, these are my top 5 benefits for choosing collaboration:
1. It’s a great way to generate creative solutions to problems or questions
Whether you’ve got a big project on your hands or you’re just trying to figure out how to make a guest happy, there’s a good chance you’ll get the best results if there are more perspectives, ideas, possibilities, and abilities in the mix. Having diverse voices mingle in collaboration helps to clear out individual blind spots, and it nurtures mutual understanding throughout the process (i.e., we all know where we are and where we’re going, and together we’ll find the best way to get there). All of that reduces conflicts and roadblocks, which makes room for the kind of pie-in-the-sky brainstorming necessary for innovation.
Ever been in a room where the group comes up with a great idea or solution no one would ever have come up with on their own? It’s magical. That’s collaboration.
2. It ensures commitment
People are wired to be engaged in their roles or in a new initiative when they have some “say” in it. When decisions that impact them need to be made, they’re more likely to show up with enthusiasm and follow-through if their voice has been heard and considered with everyone else’s, and they are invited to make a difference and get their needs met. Collaboration is a great way to accomplish all of this.
If you have an opportunity to forge a path together instead of pointing to a spot you need them to jump to, take it.
3. It builds relationships
Collaboration is people spending time together talking about and innovating stuff they all have a stake in. They learn more about one another through the collaborative process, strengthening social and professional relationships and increasing care and trust between them. Imagine what we can do with all of that.
4. It’s a way to realize projects that couldn’t be achieved by one person
5. It’s a tool for development
Maybe you have the knowledge, ability, and time to make things happen on your own. You could go solo and make decisions/do things your own way, you could also stop to consider whether or not pulling others into collaboration would offer an opportunity for growth.
Could you invite your aces into it and give them space to challenge one another to push their skills in their areas of expertise?
Could this be a chance for people to stretch into new roles or responsibilities that they wouldn’t have in their day-to-day?
Bonus: if you’re a leader with a lot on your plate, pulling people into collaboration is a great way to share the load and develop skills in others at the same time (empower!).
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Collaboration remains an essential cornerstone of our leadership culture and organization. It is worthwhile to grow your instincts to collaborate and nudge it into default mode over going it alone, even if it that means you’re just stopping and taking a moment to consider “who else can be in this with me” before moving forward.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out how, when, and why to use collaboration. All Vestalia leaders, and me, are here to support and/or guide you in that journey.