believe there is only one job in the world – creating outcomes with others. This holds true if you are a scientist, engineer, politician, retail worker, doctor or any of the other thousands of existing occupations. The fact is we need each other in order to be successful. 

Everything gets achieved as the result of collaboration.  

Collaboration, however, is an end result requiring a variety of other activities to happen first. There are individual and relational achievements that must occur in order for the effective synergy of different people working together to achieve amazing results. So often we enter into our teams and relationships with the best of intentions of working well together, but very quickly learn this is much easier said than done. If we haven’t taken the time to properly prepare or engage in our inner work collaboration is similar to painting a wet board. In the beginning it is shiny and glossy but very quickly our efforts turn out to be in vain as the paint peels away because of an ill primed foundation. Collaboration initially holds great promise but frequently ends up feeling unsatisfying, ineffective or worse an exercise in hostility. 

So what are the necessary steps to ensure successful teamwork? My experience of working with leaders and teams over the last 25 years confirms there are prerequisite competencies necessary for successful collaboration to occur. Over and over I have seen that the best collaboration is always the result of individuals having first created strong capacity in:

Regulation – This is working from a place of inner calm and strength. Not to be confused with outer poise and confidence, our internal regulation is the operating system from which our choices in belief and behaviour are generated. We need to have a solid understanding of how we get triggered by stress and have a consistent array of best practices that ensure we have a clear, balanced and deliberate approach toward ourself, others and work activities. Regulation is also the ability to ‘pause’ and step out of escalated energy (emotional, physical, mental) in order to see things from a more accurate and positive vantage point.

Reflection – Self reflection is the ability to have an accurate awareness of how we work with others and participate in collaboration. This includes knowing our skills, abilities, strengths, mindsets, values and also involves recognition of our liabilities, foibles and weaknesses. It ensures we have a good grasp on how we typically impact others as well as understand how others bring out our best and worst qualities. Reflection allows for us to authentically offset our biases and as much as possible assess ‘reality’ and our contribution to it. Reflection without regulation will produce false results.

Connection – Building positive relationships requires a genuine caring about other people and their experiences. We are interested in knowing and being known in a way that honours our human needs of feeling worthy, that we matter and we make a difference. Notice that if we haven’t done our work in regulation and reflection it compromises our ability to connect with others in a meaningful way and our connection will likely be superficial and disintegrate easily.

Communication – This is the steadfast commitment to skillfully and kindly share our relevant opinions, thoughts and feelings. Fundamentally this is about accountability for ourself and others and ensures our relationships continue to strengthen and grow. Our capacity to communicate in honest and caring ways is dependant on the strength of our connection. Without a hardy connection with others we lose motivation for candid, robust communication especially in stressful circumstances.

Collaboration – This is our collective ability to synthesis different perspectives and approaches into solutions and decisions. The sum accumulation of the previous 4 steps will ultimately determine the quality of how we collaborate, what we learn and what we create together. Powerful collaboration will initiate further need for regulation and reflection thus generating further opportunity for greater connection and deeper communication. This creates a cyclical approach to individual and team growth and transformation as we learn more and more about contributions and the effectiveness of ourself and others.

The good news is it is never too late to strengthen the competencies that support successful collaboration. Now more than ever in our highly stressful and fast paced world we need the strongest collaboration skills possible. Everything is achieved together!

Increase your own capacity for collaboration.

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