The five behaviours of successful collaborators

Can you think of the best or worst project you ever worked on? The chances are it was some kind of collaboration with another partner. If it was, then what were the specific ingredients that made it work or didn’t work?

We believe that successful collaboration is both an art and a science, and increasingly a core capability for most people within most organisations. So here are five behaviours that we have learned are important to bear in mind when looking to boost your own collaborative capabilities.

  1. Leave room for each other – With successful collaboration it’s important that you don’t say or do too much. You need to leave room for your partners ideas, creativity and ingenuity. Conversely it’s worth viewing every action your partner makes is an offer of some kind so seek to build on it constructively and look to reciprocate with offers of your own.
  2. Respond well to changes – No matter how well you plan, your partner will always do something that you don’t expect. When that happens it’s important to first acknowledge and express how you feel – whether it’s delight or frustration – and then strive to adapt and respond to that change constructively, and to build something new together.
  3. Play the long game – Only once you’ve avoided the opportunity to rip somebody else off does collaboration really begin. Therefore strive to create long term shared value, at the expense of shorter term individual value. After all you can’t run away from your reputation any more so look instead to be a partner of choice and a good collaborator instead.
  4. Build trust through generosity – Find opportunities to make your partner look and feel good. In doing so the greater the dividends for you downstream. Bear in mind that what you value –time, money, resources, contacts, skills etc – almost certainly differs to what your partner values so strive to give what you can and is most valuable to them.
  5. Review and regroup as you go – Build a habit of asking your partners “Are we working well as a team?”. The question should be asked without judgment but rather was used to explore what is working and to tease our what could be improved. This can be incredibly helpful in surfacing and dealing with any issues emerging before they become blockers.

By embedding these five behaviours we have learned that we can learn to work better together with others. Please do try them for size and see what happens. And to find out what type of collaborator you are, take our quick three minute profiling test here.

by Roland

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