Collaboration is absolutely essential if you want to build an innovative company that thinks creatively and adapts to change in the marketplace. As an executive leadership consultant, I see many team leaders struggle with building and supporting an environment that encourages collaboration—and they miss out on great opportunities to tap into the creativity and experience of each member on their team.
If you have a chance, I recommend reading The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. It is a fabulous book filled with techniques that are staples in my team coaching efforts.
Here are four keys to successful collaboration that I recommend you focus on:
In order to get the best results, a team must feel comfortable, and empowered to confront and challenge one another. Healthy, constructive confrontation is essential to discovering the next big thing because ideas that go unchallenged are never explored or expanded, and that is where truly creative insights lie.
Each member of your collaboration team needs to understand why they are on the team, what they bring to the discussion, and their role in the group. You don’t have to dictate how the group interacts, but you should define the responsibilities and expected contribution of each member. This avoids the group wasting time and energy trying to establish roles and possibly fighting over territory.
Every team needs a leader. Even cross-functional or inter-departmental collaborative groups need to have a leader that guides the discussion without monopolizing it. Leaders should keep the group on topic and guide the progression of the discussion by asking questions and encouraging exploration at the right times and places.
Along the hallways of Google’s corporate office there are boards and markers that allow employees to write new ideas, quotes or other inspiration for everyone to see. This is a great example of a company that encourages sharing and collaboration. And just look at the innovation and success they have had as a result of this culture!
Collaboration can be a delicate thing to manage. Practice and patience allow the team to develop comfort with each other and with sharing ideas. What have you done to be a better collaborator? How have you encouraged the sharing of new ideas in your organization?
Howard Shore is an executive leadership consultant and founder of Activate Group Inc, based in Miami, Florida. His firm works with companies to deliver transformational management and business coaching to their executive leadership. To learn more about executive leadership consulting through AGI, please contact Howard at (305) 722-7216 or email him.