Are You a Great Collaborator?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

One of the critical skills for leaders and team members is collaboration.  However, in my experience, it is one of the least understood leadership skills in most organizations.  The results of poor collaboration can be severe for an organization.

Why are collaboration skills so important for today’s successful business?  At the heart of every successful project, new product, and successful new venture is collaboration.  Without it, almost nothing of value and meaning would be created and sustained.  The days of solo success are mostly over – if they ever really existed.  Even some of the most celebrated “solo” creators were really not solo successes at all.  Some point to Thomas Edison.  Nope.  He had an entire team of innovators to help him create hundreds of useful products.  How about Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?  Not even close.  They were great leaders – Bill Gates still is – but they were surrounded by key collaborators who helped them create great products and companies.

So what makes a great collaborator?  It starts with the proper attitude.  Great collaborators have attitudes of service, are outcome-orientation, and are full of humility. The greater good is what they care most about.  They like working with others and find real meaning in creating lasting and trustworthy relationships. As a leader, you must model these attitudes and and challenge others to live them as well.

Beside a proper attitude, collaborators have skills.  They are good at joint project management.  The keep their commitments by going the extra mile.  They are good listeners.  They seek to excel at collaborative discussion and request real input from others.  A great collaborator works to develop all of these skills through the normal course of their work.  When individuals and leaders have these skills and the right attitude, they can be successful.

Finally, collaborators communicate the importance of being collaborative. They talk about successful efforts.  They talk about how to get better at it.  They also share when they have failed to be great collaborators. They know it is just as important to talk about past collaborations as it is to pursue future collaborations.  Leaders know they must stay focused on the work that matters most.  And, collaboration is vital which means it must be continuously talked about and promoted.

Are you a great collaborator?  Have you defined what it means for your team to be great at collaboration?  Do you constantly strive to excel as a collaborator?  Doing so is vital for your success.  Asking yourself these questions and more can help you be a successful collaborator.