Leadership words that matter: Collaboration

Collaboration has evolved in its meaning. In older times it had a negative connotation. A collaborator was a spy, someone that was collaborating with the enemy. For some leaders it would seem that collaboration is still a negative word!  

Yet, a current working definition of collaboration, shared by several different disciplines is: joining together to make possible that which cannot be accomplished alone. The present business environment demands that kind of collaboration. 

Joining together is that partnership in which all members of a team work together toward a common goal to succeed. By joining forces they become much more effective. As the saying goes: “Many hands make light work.”

Leaders need many minds working together in creating the vision, mission, and working actions of the organization. Don't isolate yourself. You need the collaboration not only of your executive team, but also of your directors and managers.  

I learned early about the advantages of collaboration.  I remember one time when with my parents and two other women friends we were traveling in a very isolated rough dirt road to reach a community where my parents were to conduct some meetings. It started raining, and while crossing a small stream, one of the wheels of the jeep fell into a deep hole.

Although we tried to lift and push the vehicle, we were not able to move it. The chauffeur decided to try to find help in one of the farms in the area. Meanwhile, the torrential rain soon had the small stream converted into a swift running river that was threatening to take the vehicle away.

After a couple of hours, several men came by with their horses. Now, when everybody joined forces, they were able to get the vehicle free, turned around, and out of danger.

The practical lesson lived that day has stayed with me. You can help your organization get unstuck and move forward by joining the strengths of individuals with the gifts and strengths of others. Thus, you will help create momentum that moves everyone in the needed direction.

Envision joining as a series of gears, where the cogs align and leverage the energies of each gear. That is how you lead interactions within your group. Where there is misalignment, there is frustration and lack of forward progress. Your goal as a leader is to identify strengths and keep the joined gears smoothly running by making sure that clear communication builds strong relationships.

Remember. . .

When you join with others, forming a connection, and collaborate acting together, you can do anything!