Cultivating Collaboration Skills to Succeed

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In today’s workplace, many organizations promote collaboration as an answer to the business need to improve teamwork, innovation and the bottom-line. But the answer to one essential question that needs more attention is this one: “Have we identified the right collaboration competencies and skills required to develop our people to become the best collaborators and what tools do we also need to provide to optimize their success?”

Among the core competencies that enable leaders and staff to withstand the demands of collaborations are self-awareness, curiosity, mindfulness and emotional self-management.  Self-awareness of one’s strengths and areas to develop can generate increased accountability for the actions and reactions required for more efficient and effective collaborations.   Curiosity about others’ thoughts and interests can foster the mental preparedness to collaborate and enable more stimulating discussion and more creative idea-generation. Mindfulness to stay focused on the collaboration and avoid distractions can lead to a more productive use of collaboration time.  Finally, managing one’s emotional triggers proactively can enable one to listen better, respond less defensively and build stronger partnerships with all parties.

Key collaboration skills required for peak results are communication agility, cultural adaptability, influencing proficiency, whole brain thinking and conflict resiliency.  Having the skill to communicate one’s message with clarity and impact in routine and unexpected conversations is vital for the most productive discussions and end-results. In a global economy, knowing how to identify and adjust to diverse cultures appropriately to build trusting collaborative partnerships can make a difference between success or failure.

Being able to influence other collaborators is also an important skill for achieving connection, trust, commitment and call to action in all phases of a collaboration.  To generate the best ideas, whole-brain thinking is paramount.  Having the skillset to combine linear and intuitive thinking processes to address collaboration problems and opportunities leads collaborators to a more innovative path of broader and more diverse options and solutions.  The confidence to disagree and manage the conflict responses of self and others is also a necessary skill that collaborators need to succeed.

Leaders and their teams also need access to the best collaboration tools to succeed. These tools include a self-assessment of one’s collaboration competencies and skills, planning checklists, integrated technology, knowledge transfer processes, collaboration meeting tips and guidelines for engagement, creativity and disagreement.

Gail LevittMore information about how to prepare leaders and their teams better to withstand the pressures and challenges of collaborations and achieve peak results can be found in the book, titled The Truth About Collaborating: Why People Fail and How to Succeed by Gail Levitt.  On June 18, 2020, Levitt will present additional ideas and solutions featured in this book at a special ExecEd Advantage Insight Series breakfast event starting at 7:30am at the Executive Learning Centre, Schulich School of Business. To register, visit the event page here.

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