1. They know when not to collaborate. While the need for productive collaboration is growing in our increasingly networked and matrixed world, it’s not a one-size-fits-all leadership approach. Bringing people together must

  • speed up the time it takes to get a quality job done,
  • improve the outcome for the customer,
  • and strengthen the culture.

If collaborating can’t accomplish these things, then it’s probably wise to bring fewer people together and find other ways to include others.

2. Alignment and agreement are two different things. Alignment means execution improves because our focus and actions are coordinated with one another. We don’t have to agree for alignment to occur.

  • If we all must agree prior to taking action, then before we start a job it’s smart to acknowledge:
  • that making a decision is likely going to take longer,
  • each person will have the same power to veto decisions and stop action,

and we’re more susceptible to making decisions that deliver moderate value to the business (because we had to make everyone happy, fewer people will be delighted).

3.The group is usually smarter than any individual – but not always. Effective collaboration requires the psychological safety for people to speak their truth and challenge each other through vigorous debate. If this sort of environment doesn’t exist, the team is susceptible to making non-optimal decisions as team members prioritize conforming over healthy conflict.

A reminder: Bringing people together is an expensive investment for the organization. Collaboration is a skill that requires effort and practice; people aren’t good at it just because they like each other or even when they have shared objectives.

As a team, do we understand what great collaboration looks like?



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