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3 Keys to Successful Collaboration

Accomplish more by working together

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Now more than ever, leaders must act swiftly and decisively in taking actions that will give them a winning edge as they lead their teams and organizations. In these unprecedented times, leaders must look to one of the oldest success strategies there ever was: collaboration. Collaborating with others has proven time and time again to reap benefits that no one person can single-handedly attain.

A survey by Fierce, Inc. found that 86 percent of employees blame lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. The past has informed us that collaboration is the midwife of innovation. Those who carefully choose the route of partnership invariably flourish. While you may have a bright idea, it undoubtedly takes collaborative effort to give birth to a healthy product.

Some recognize the wisdom in the African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” Collaboration can be either internal or external. It is sometimes incumbent upon leadership to initiate and partake in both aspects.

In a conversation with business magnate Richard Branson on an episode of “The Entrepreneurial You”podcast, Richard captured the essence of why collaboration is vital. He said, “Lots of people have the same idea, it is about how you execute that is critical.”

But how does a leader set the stage for a rewarding alliance? Here are three things that must be in place:

  • Formulate a clear and inspiring why.
    Ideas are a dime a dozen. However, they will be of little effect if they do not resonate with stakeholders. Everyone is tuned in to WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Therefore, leaders must identify the facets of a vision that connects with their constituents to get the necessary buy-in. This is true whether it is an internal team effort or part of an external partnership. In his book, “Start with Why,” Simon Sinek argues most companies work from the outside in, but inspired and influential leaders communicate from the inside out. This is based on the reality that people usually don’t care about what you do but why you do what you do.
  • Establish team goals.
    Lewis Carroll aptly put it, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” The surest way to confusion among teams is lack of clarity. A team must know what it is working toward and it is the role of the leader to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Create clear action plans for each person involved.
  • Communicate expectations.
    Miscommunication is all too common in the workplace and can prevent your intended goal from being realized. An effective way to ensure your message is received is to have all parties restate in their own words what they believe is being communicated. This will catch any misunderstandings at the source.

When handled well, the nature of collaboration makes it a win-win for all. Once you have this foundation in place, the technicalities of each collaborative effort will become easier to navigate.

What is your most effective collaboration strategy? Share it with us on Twitter using @TheEntrepYou.

This post first appeared on the Leadercast Blog.

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