15-How to Build Strategic Culture

The Underestimated Power of Collaboration

In our work in companies and industries of all types, and with leaders at all levels, we have found collaboration to be a powerful tool—but one that is often terribly underutilized.

Collaboration invigorates organizations by helping teams function more effectively and initiating team-based decision making when developing solutions and plans.

Teams need their members and leaders to be committed to the collaborative process in order to solve problems efficiently, make better decisions, and discover productive ways of executing critical team and business initiatives.

With the speed of business today, organizations not only need team members and leaders to be good at their jobs as individuals, they need them to be good at working together towards the organization’s goals—and you just can’t build a high-performance team without collaboration.

The Leader’s Role

Leaders have choices about how they work with their own teams and other teams across the business: They can choose to take a more-directive, less-inclusive approach, or they can take an approach that is more collaborative, taps into the diverse ideas of others, and unleashes their creativity, empowerment, and engagement.

We generally prefer the collaborative approach to leading teams because it capitalizes on the group’s collective intelligence and allows people to use their talents to work together to solve problems, make decisions, and achieve shared objectives. A wise person once said, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Nowhere is this truer than in teams.

So, how do you know if you have a collaborative team environment? Look for the following team tendencies. They indicate a culture of collaboration, and their presence or absence will help you ascertain the current level of collaboration on your team:

  • Group discussions are friendly and productive
  • Team members are involved and engaged in the team’s task or objective
  • The level of competitiveness among team members is low
  • Contribution from everyone is encouraged and valued
  • Conflicts and tension are resolved openly, honestly, and effectively

The perception may be that building a collaborative team environment takes time, but does taking the time to increase collaboration actually save you time in the end?

Doesn’t having a collaborative team help to circumvent problems, misunderstandings, and miscommunication?

Doesn’t having a team where all parties contribute to the process of making team decisions keep everyone more engaged and dedicated to team goals? And let’s not forget the many other benefits and positive outcomes to be gained from fostering greater collaboration: open dialogue, creative solutions, increased unity, and improved team alignment and commitment.

All it takes to make substantial improvements to a team’s level of collaboration is a little focus and effort. It all comes down to engaging the team and drawing out its members’ commitment to working together towards a clear and compelling vision. That momentum can then be channeled into higher levels of team performance. Don’t underestimate this powerful tool.

It is within your reach!

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About the Author
Stephanie Mead
Ms. Mead has experience in operations management, leadership development curriculum design, organization development consulting, and international operations. Stephanie has developed complete leadership development curriculums for some of the world’s leading organizations. Her experience also includes creating specialized learning experiences and blended learning programs aimed at maximizing human and organization performance. Stephanie has also co-authored 4 books with other CMOE consultants.

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