Culture & Competency

Being a Leader – and the Role of Collaboration

Michael looks at fostering collaboration when you’re the leader. In particular, he talks about the necessity of trust:

You will only be able to build collaboration if you create a climate of trust. This is a critical success factor, and if you are not honest and transparent, almost everyone will see through you. You must exhibit and DEMONSTRATE a framework of authentic trust. Now, you ask, “How does one build trust”? First, you need to construct a safe environment where your team members are comfortable asking tough questions. Unless the individual team member is exhibiting pathological characteristics, you must embrace the questions either that you do not know the answer to, or that make you squirm. If you surround yourself by YES folks, you are doomed to failure. Your team members must be able to ask “why,” and if you cannot honestly answer the questions, be candid but brief, and indicate that you will find an answer?

My Comments
1. What applies to leader to team member collaboration also applies more broadly to collaboration between any two people. Without trust, you won’t get the “non-trivial actions” (to use Michael’s phrase) of collaboration.

2. For the record, the non-trivial actions – or activities – of collaboration are: “brainstorming and idea generation, communication, conflict resolution, cooperation, coordination, deep critical thinking, information sharing, knowledge transfer, negotiation, and problem solving.

3. Last week a colleague asked me to review one of his upcoming reports, and to provide feedback thereon. I read the paper, had some major concerns, and asked for a time to discuss my “major concerns.” We set a time, he listened while I talked, he accepted what I said, and took on-board my concerns. We had a trusting relationship before the call; and that trust for me was built further by his response and reaction. I’ll be willing to say I have “major concerns” again in the future if he asks me for feedback on another project. Even if he didn’t act on what I said, his method of response and reaction – listening, seeking clarification, exploring the idea – was powerful.

4. Trust is built interaction-by-interaction, and can be destroyed very quickly.

5. What are you doing to build trust between the people you work with?

Categories: Culture & Competency