Top 3 Takeaways from Collabor(h)ate with Dr. Deb Mashek

Last week, I was joined by Dr. Deb Mashek, author of Collabor(h)ate. Together we tackled one of the most loved and loathed aspects of working with others. According to global leadership research firm Management Research Group, the abilities of leaders to involve others, cooperate, coordinate approaches and drive collective results are quickly becoming the drivers of leadership success. Collaboration might be “the new black.”

So, if our ability to collaborate with others is so important, why is so little time spent teaching people how to do it right? The go-to method for building our collaboration skills is typically to get thrown into the deep end with mandates like “increase cross-functional team work,” “reduce siloes” and, the general “we just need you to collaborate better!”

Logic (and results) tells us that a host of positive outcomes come from slowing down and involving others: innovation, process improvement, increased efficiency and better business outcomes are some of the worthy spoils. But if it’s all so good, why does collaboration often get such a bad rap?

Here are my top 3 takeaways from this lively discussion:

  1. The Best Offence is a Good Defence: The problem with many collaborative relationships is that we dive in headfirst and don’t set ourselves up for success from the start. According to the NeuroLeadership Institute, the root of most conflict is unclear expectations, misinterpreted intentions and getting emotionally triggered. Sitting down with potential collaborators up front and covering the basics can get you off on the right foot. How do you like to communicate? What are your standards around quality? How do you want to receive feedback? How will you handle things if they go off the rails? Slowing down to set the ground rules can head off many problems before they even start.
  2. Maybe You Don’t Need to Collaborate: The word collaboration is broadly used in organizations, when, perhaps, you don’t actually need people to collaborate… you actually need them to cooperate, or simply network with each other to share information. As Deb shared in her Mashek Matrix, great collaboration happens when the level of interdependence with goals is high and the level of relationship trust is also high. If goals aren’t interdependent, then perhaps it’s not collaboration that you need after all.
  3. Bring the Donuts: For successful collaborations to work, we need to find ways to contribute to the collective “culture” of the collaboration. Whether that’s bringing some treats to the planning meeting, offering well-timed words of encouragement, or celebrating progress and milestones, setting the community norms helps make collaborative endeavours more enjoyable and less stressful.

As always, there were so many more nuggets. Watch the full recording here.

We’ll be back with our Ask the Expert series in the Fall with talks from Jody Thompson and Henna Pryor, so be sure to check out our website for updates. And, our early bird registration for the Fall Roundtable for Leaders program is on now through July 31st. Register early and receive a complimentary Individual Directions Inventory assessment and debrief.

Have a wonderful summer and don’t forget to slow down and enjoy time with friends and family.

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