What does good collaboration require from you, and especially from your [collaborative] mindset? Can you just “do it” and collaborate for your own advantage, or is there more required to come to a good collaboration?
Collaboration, whether inside an organisation in teams or between organisations in alliances, is established to achieve a result that cannot be achieved alone. In other words, collaboration is about synergy. When you focus solely on what is in it for you, then the collaboration is either doomed to fail, or it will never reach its full potential.
In any collaboration, the emphasis must be on what benefits all parties involved. The collective synergy created in a collaboration will lead to an increased result for all, including yourself.
Many collaborations fail because of the fact that people tend to forget this! They start to focus more on themselves rather than on the collective. They stop communicating and sometimes start taking positions about others; thus slowly, but steadily, they poison the collaboration. This often leads to toxic teams and failed partnerships.
Finger pointing won’t help to find solutions. Even though you might feel that someone else really has to change, you can’t force them to do so. Therefore, it is important for you and your partners to look into the proverbial mirror of your collaborative behaviour. It almost always turns out that there is no single party to blame for a toxic situation. Every party plays a role in the situation and some are stronger than others. The view in the mirror will be a good basis in order to help you change for the better and return to a healthy situation.
When each party is willing to work personally on changing for the benefit of the collective, there is a good chance the collaboration will get back on track. The willingness to change comes down to you individually. Collaboration starts with you; your collaborative ability is built on your attitude and your behaviour. You are the only one who can change yourself!
So, what does collaboration require from you, and especially from your mindset? Here are four essential elements for a collaborative mindset:
We versus I
Collaboration requires a “we” focused behaviour rather than an “I” focused behaviour. Self-focused individuals primarily seek personal gain, but in partnerships, the focus must be on synergistic benefits. When all parties benefit, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, making a “we” focus pivotal in achieving the desired results.
Sharing – Information and Outcomes
To foster collaboration and harness the synergy effect, transparency and sharing are essential. Sharing relevant information can amplify the collaborative synergy, enhancing your partner’s effectiveness. Additionally, proactively sharing outcomes and challenges allows your partner to assist in finding solutions that further strengthen the partnership.
Trust and Faith
Successful collaboration hinges on trust. It starts with your trust in your partner and their capabilities. Have faith in their ability to perform tasks competently. In cases of doubt, guide them rather than assuming their incapability. Assisting each other during challenging situations strengthens trust between partners.
Frequent and Open Communication
The three aforementioned elements can quickly erode without consistent and open communication. Purposely withholding information leads to the “I versus We” trap. Never assume that your counterpart understands things as you do; effective communication is paramount. Share critical information and don’t hesitate to discuss matters unrelated to cooperation, as it enhances trust by highlighting your human side.
These elements are four of the essential elements of a collaborative mindset that help to foster successful collaborations. Learn more about our online course and our Alliance Masterclass, where we dive deeper into these elements and other factors of alliance success.