Collaboration is a recursive process. This is more than some shared common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective determination to reach an identical objective; usually creative in nature. The result of collaboration is access to greater resources, recognition, and reward. It is the deep underpinning of healthy organizational cultures where egalitarianism is practiced rather than EGOTISM.
“Collaborative activity is the “secret sauce” that enables teams to come up with innovative new products or creative, buzz-worthy marketing campaigns. But people can also collaborate creatively around a seemingly mundane project — like the installation of a new accounting package — and use that initiative to transform the way in which an organization does business.” – Keith Ferrazzi, Havard Business Review.
“The other day, I was interviewing Alan S. Cohen, an expert on networks who has been involved in several successful start-ups. At one point, Cohen began talking about the importance of “collaboration” both within and between firms in Silicon Valley. Then he stopped and said it’s interesting that in Silicon Valley “collaboration” is defined as something you do with another colleague or company to achieve greatness — something to be praised — as in: “They collaborated on that beautiful piece of software.” But in Congress “collaboration” means something very different today. It’s the second definition — collaboration is an act of treason — something you do when you cross over and vote with the other party. In Silicon Valley, great “collaborators” are prized; in Washington, they are hanged.” – Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times.
I recently attended a meeting and was reminded of the power of collaboration. Each person had a voice in the meeting and asked questions. A powerful synergy existed within the group which pulled me toward their shared objective; to raise the collective consciousness through self empowering programs. The leader had a vision, and everyone there had the desire to share in that vision. What was so powerful is the leader made space for each member of the team to have a voice. They rarely made unilateral decisions because they believe the collective group conscious had more power.
I believe this is the essence of leadership. It is what I aspire to do on a daily basis. All the mistakes I’ve made have helped me get closer to this ideal. I often wonder if ALL people who practice this level of leadership are really just those who made a ton of mistakes on a daily basis. If instead of becoming egocentric, they became introspective. They look to see what they can change within themselves, rather than look at what needs to be changed around them.
Below is a small description of what I believe to be some of the most powerful and the some of the weakest leadership traits. This list is uncomfortable to write. I reflect on how I show up in my marriage, with my children, with groups I’ve been a member of, with friends, family, as a business owner and as a team member. The list is comprised of decades of observation in how others have shown up, but also in how I’ve shown up.
It’s the latter that makes me squeamish when I write this. Perhaps you will be squeamish too! Wonderful, then let’s collaborate on how we can support each other in being our ideal and move past our own EGO to create more effective leaders within ourselves, our family, our community and our company culture!
EGOTISM – this is what we consciously or unconsciously do. This leadership is grounded in fear and insecurities.
Assume here the EGO is talking to you! It is whispering in your ear. This is not you, it is apart from you. I believe this level of detachment allows me breakthroughs more quickly. It lacks judgment upon myself and upon you. I believe we all have EGO’s and we all have choice in how much a role we allow EGO to play in our lives.
“The EGO projects to exclude, and therefore to deceive” – Course In Miracles
The EGO may say:
All good ideas come from ME
Everyone else’s are bad, until enough time goes by. Then they become MINE and I take credit for them.
I make decisions and then make it MY mission to convince everyone how great those decisions are.
After I make a decision, only then do I ask everyone what they think. If they dare tell me, then I tell them why they are wrong until they shut up and carry out MY decision.
If someone pushes back then they are a problem and I will eliminate them by excluding them so they don’t interfere with the group and MY decisions again. Usually by withholding future plans. I also withhold praise, affection and attention as well to punish them and teach them a lesson.
I talk about an open door policy. But if you come to me and I do not agree, then I will embarrass you with your complaint to make sure you are too afraid to voice such an oppositional opinion again.
When I meet someone new I will identify all their weaknesses. Then I will go share those weaknesses with all MY employees. This way they see each other as weak and I can stay all powerful.
I am stingy with recognition because let’s face it I am the only one with good ideas.
I think if I work 14 hours a day that I am effective.
I am moody and resentful because no one is willing to work as hard as me.
I expect too much from others and no matter what they do I am ALWAYS looking for more.
I see each person as a reflection of ME. So I expect them to be an extension of ME.
I do not feel comfortable around those that challenge ME. So I eliminate them.
I do not feel comfortable around those that are smarter than ME, so I hire yes men and women.
I do not feel comfortable around concepts or changes that are foreign to ME. So I will ridicule them as ‘new age, hoopla, p.c.’ or some other such slur to protect MY rightness.
I fail to communicate because I don’t want to give up MY power.
If I am the only person who has the map; who knows the plan; then no one can question ME or where I am going.
I am reactive; but think I hide my emotions well.
I attempt to puppet master everyone, and when they don’t do as I expect I get mad at them for not letting ME control them.
Results: People will shut down and stop sharing their ideas. They will feign agreement and either do what they want or concede to the ego demand resentfully. When they leave it’s often bitter and with disgust for not only what the ego demanded of them but for allowing themselves to do it. Departments are distrustful of one another. Meetings are often centered around ‘what’s wrong’ because the EGO’s model of the world is “the world and you are broken and need to be fixed”.
Impromptu meetings are usually designed to “fix the problem” or discuss the “problem”. Employees are often ignored until they become a “problem” and then there is a file (mental checklist) on them, and all their problems, in case they ever need to be eliminated. If they create no “problems” then they get to skate by even if their performance is mediocre. The EGO’s puppet master is exhausted going from problem to problem. The EGO often sees its employees as idiots. It believes it has to do everything itself and others are not to be counted on or to be trusted. It often believes it is a savior. Ironic since the EGO’s level of distrust, disdain and dishonor toward its team can be petty, hurtful, malicious and treacherous.
EGALITARIANISM – The equality in all grounded in I’m ok, you’re ok, let’s be great together.
The group is proud of their work and takes ownerships because most ideas are a group effort.
The group sees the value in each person. There is a sense of equality so all are welcome to share their ideas. There is NO EMPLOYEE. There are members of a team committed to a shared vision.
They give credit to one another for their part. The leader rarely takes personal credit even for ideas they put in motion.
The leader has a vision and is open and willing to update their vision to the most effective process to get there. So they present their vision and then allow the group autonomy in the daily decisions to realize their vision. The leader is flexible enough to allow their mind to be changed.
Throughout the decision making process, the leader is asking questions. They value input and feedback and each team member is then empowered to deploy the groups consensus.
The leader admires those who push back. The leader encourages healthy discourse, and discussion, guided toward an effective group conscious.
The leader appreciates feedback. The leader often publicly shares the feedback, gives credit to the source, and how the leader will change based on that feedback; to continue to be a more effective leader.
When they meet someone, they are looking for the positive attributes that person can bring to the team. They share those positive attributes with the team. Their goal is for each person, to look at the best in each person, because a united team is more powerful than a disjointed one.
Recognition and compliments are common place. A good leader sees what is right and builds upon that.
This leader believes in work life balance. Their team wants to dig in and work 14 hour days for a project because this leaders team is inspired. This leader creates a fun environment around them with games, recognition and team building to weave into the foundational culture.
They are positive and share their faith in their team daily. The team is inspired by the trust placed in them and they hit goals because they are empowered to do so.
They believe the team gives their best and they show appreciation for what the team delivers.
They value each person and their contribution to the team.
They are energized by those that challenge them. So they often promote and give increased level of responsibility to those who challenge them. They believe strong teams will give honest feedback and not allow them to drive their vision off a cliff.
They identify their weaknesses and then specifically look for teams to fill in those areas for strength and surround themselves with people they believe may be smarter or at the very least stronger in that particular area.
They enjoy new concepts and ideas. Especially those that are foreign to them because they provide a fresh perspective. They like to be ‘incorrect’ because it means they have a great team around me thinking of things they may not have even noticed.
They often over communicate because they want to EMPOWER the team.
They want everyone to have the map of their vision. So the team will play active ownership in the process. They want the team to question and plan the most effective and efficient way to reach their shared goals.
They are often confident because they trust the team. They can be open because they harbor no hidden agenda. They like their team because they’ve created a culture where they can speak their mind openly and the team can do the same.
They enjoy a lot time planning and creating, because they have a team to manage all the details. They are rarely called upon to fix ‘problems’.
Results: People are inspired to share their ideas. They will disagree openly until the group has hashed out a common goal. Since they were heard, they will happily buy into the common goal, even if aspects of it are not things they completely agree with.
When they leave it’s often with deep sadness, because they will miss their friends, and the great work they were able to participate in. Departments trust one another, look out for one another and see themselves as one group. Meetings are often centered around the success we’ve had and where we want to go next. Most time impromptu meetings are to strategize and talk about solutions.
Most times mistakes are ignored and there is no mental check list of others infractions. People are supported and encouraged daily because this leader understands how to cultivate talent. If anyone attempts to fly under the radar, with mediocre performance, they uncomfortably stand out; usually they will leave on their own. The leader is energized with new ideas because they inspired a great team capable and competent of collaboration to realize their vision. They often see their team members as valued people in their life. They believe in handing off tasks to empower those around them to take ownership and grow into their own leaderships roles. They not only count on their team, but a deep trust exits between all. They often believe they are the students because they are surrounded by great teachers in their own respective areas. They are both humbled and appreciative for the talent they have around them.
“Teach only love, for that is what you are.” – Course In Miracles