Contribute vs. Collaborate – They Start from Different Premises

Chad has been writing about leadership, and one of the words he has been exploring is “collaborate.” In his most recent post, he talks about the difference between contribution and collaboration:

The Transactional leader is looking for contributors. Another word for contributor is ‘producer’. Contribute something to the project, the company, the team or find yourself in search of a new job. The need to make a contribution drives some to be back-stabbing, cold-hearted corporate climbers. While others simply settle in to lower circles of responsibility, their contributions limited to the minimum required amount of effort necessary to provide value to the team. Transactional leaders search for contributors the way entrepreneurs search for venture capitalists. What do you bring to the table? How can you bring more satisfied customers, design a better product or provide a better service? If louder, faster, higher is the mantra of the trumpet player, bigger, faster, better is the mantra of the Transactional Leader. There’s always one more sale to make, one more quota to break. Contribute or die and if you contribute the most we’ll give you a fancy gold watch!

Collaboration is different from contribution.

My Comments
1. Chad explores how collaboration is different from contribution. My favorite phrase in his blog post is this one: “Collaboration in the art of working with others” (emphasis added). I like that. The “art of working with others.”

2. Foundational requirements for collaboration include humility (realizing that I don’t know everything), respect for the opinions and perspectives of others, and trust. See the practice section in my blog post on the 3 P’s of collaboration – Chad and I have a very similar view.

3. In terms of the specific words used, both “contribution” and “collaboration” can be good or bad. You would have to understand the fundamental driver of a person before saying that “contribution is always bad” and “collaboration is always good.” For example, a collaborator “contributes” their expertise and viewpoint in conjunction with the efforts of others. Likewise, a “back-stabbing, cold-hearted corporate climber” could “collaborate” for just as long as they needed before showing their true colors. Mmm, this is making me think!

4. Anyway, it’s a good article – thanks to Chad for sharing his thoughts.

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