Collaboration is the keystone of leadership success. Don’t believe me? Google > sequestration < Anyone?
Last week in Washington we saw an infantile exercise in acting out. Driven by rigid ideology, inflated egos, and a desire for revenge that put party above country, potentially serious damage was self-inflicted on our economy by a stubborn few. This is not a political rant as much as it is a leadership call to action.
This is what leadership failure looks. And it happened because some people don’t know how to – or refuse to — collaborate.
There’s a silver lining: we have an object lesson in how not to run our enterprises and careers. And the imperative to collaborate as leaders has never been made clearer.
Collaboration isn’t about best being friends, or even necessarily liking everyone you’re working with. It is about putting all and any baggage aside, bringing your best self to the table and focusing on the common goal.
Still not quite sold on the need to collaborate? List the five products or services that you feel most passionate about, that you just couldn’t live without. The iPhone? Downton Abbey? Pinterest? Kit-Kat bars? Twitter?
Got your list?
Every single thing on that list was the product of a successful team collaboration.
Sure, there may have been some half-crazy genius like Steve Jobs who supplied the leadership inspiration, but inspiration without collaboration is just a lot of great ideas that evaporate into the ether.
Some of us are wary of collaboration because we feel threatened by it. Will I get credit for my contribution? And who wants to be one of many, just a cog in the wheel? We want to be stars, unique, fabulous. This narcissistic mindset is endemic in our culture these days, fed by media (and reality TV). Now that we can all document our daily lives for hundreds, if not thousands, to see, our egos risk becoming inflated, not based on any accomplishments but simply because we’re stars on our own facebook page. A dangerous threat to your business and career if you are unwilling to work with others in a productive way.
Get over it.
Make a list of five living people you greatly admire (include at least two businesspeople and your mom if you need to. Smiles).
Got your list?
Every person on that list got where they are through collaboration.
They’re smart enough to know they need help to make their dreams a reality, to build to success and on success.
Collaboration isn’t about giving up your individuality. Quite the opposite: it’s about realizing your potential. It’s about bringing your many gifts to the table and sharing them in pursuit of a common goal. It’s about your ideas, your passion, your mind, heart and soul to your leadership and culture.
What it isn’t about is an inflated ego, a thin skin, a closed mind. In today’s roiling, racing, collaborative, diverse and thrilling global business economy, these are nothing less than career, leadership and workplace culture killers.
I hope I’ve convinced you that collaboration is imperative to success. If you want to see what the failure to collaborate looks like, look at Washington. If you want to see what the potential for collaborative success looks like, look in the mirror. It starts with you.
Who are your five people?