Collaboration is a Leadership Advantage

When team members believe they have no voice or no one listens when they communicate, there's a missed opportunity for the organization and leader.

An idea, view, or contribution that could positively enrich and fast-track the outcome remains bottled up, and the employee’s intellectual and emotional connection to the company and team diminishes.

Providing the space for each team member to exchange ideas, viewpoints, and information empowers working together for a common purpose to achieve business goals. 

“People support what they create.” And if you allow for others to be in the process of creating it with you from the onset, then you’ll have a lot less work to do on the back end to try to get everybody on board with your idea.” 

– Kristi Rubenstein

In essence, collaboration is essential to employee engagement and mitigating change resistance.

Collaboration Opportunities 

There are natural opportunities to collaborate when:

  • Building cross-functional relationships across different departments, divisions, geographies, and more.
  • Leading the team through and enabling adaption to organizational change.
  • Identifying, analyzing, and resolving problems.
  • Brainstorming to generate ideas.
  • Working collectively to complete a project.

These are ideal collaboration opportunities, yet maximizing the outcomes takes deliberate leadership effort.

Three Leadership Tips

Keep in mind the following when building and sustaining a culture that enables and values collaboration:

Be the Role Model. 

Set expectations for your team when they see you developing and supporting business relationships with colleagues. It signals that one does not have to be the expert in all things, that there is value in collegial relationships and gaining perspective from others, and that it is all right for the team members to do the same.

Create a Safe Space. 

Make it possible for everyone to express their views and ideas and share information comfortably and confidently. Recognize that nationality, age, educational level, and tenure could influence one’s comfort in collaborating with others (Gratton, L. and Erickson, T.J., November 2007, Harvard Business Review). 

Additionally, be mindful of acknowledging some team members’ input while withholding that acknowledgment from others, especially if it happens within close proximity in time. It could create a perception of favoritism, creating gaps instead of bridges in creating a safe space.

Recognize Overuse.

Watch for collaboration overuse. Be aware of team members routinely collaborating with others on standard work assignments. It distorts determining how well the individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities align with the role versus achieving business-as-usual results based on collective insights.

A Call to Action

Considering these tips, what action can you take immediately to elevate the collaboration impact for you and your team?

You don’t have to go it alone. Contact me for a complimentary consultation.

Lillian Davenport, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, CTACC, Principal, End View Solutions, LLC

Lillian Davenport

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Lillian Davenport is a coach, consultant, and leadership strategist. Her signature program, M3 LeadershipSM, prepares you to enhance and develop your self-awareness, embrace your inner strength, and lead with confidence, courage, and impact.

Lillian’s career as a human resources leader includes roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Woodforest National Bank, and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), where she leveraged employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise in leadership development.