This past weekend, my partner and I hosted a ‘fiesta dinner party’ for family that included chips and guacamole, re-fried beans and fajitas, margaritas, and sangria topped off with an ice cream toppings bar! Besides being a time of connection, I was in observance of the ‘team’ we all have become, playing to each other’s strengths, collaborating to create a fun and enjoyable evening together. My partner and my sister love to cook and collaborated in preparing the fiesta. My strength is in the arranging and organizing, so I had my time to shine prior to the event and during clean-up. (I can clean and organize a kitchen before the group even realizes I have removed their plates from the table.) My son did the heavy work — getting umbrellas in the tables outside and moving tables and chairs around. His wife, her parents and my mom kept the conversation moving with great stories. I have come to see story telling as a true strength and skill that really adds to a group’s dynamic.
I paint this picture because collaboration in a group or team dynamic is not just found in the workplace. In all areas of my life, I experience collaboration — whether it is through a dinner party, a child/parent relationship, a community group, or in my life’s work. Below are some key lessons I have learned for demonstrating leadership in collaborating that are easily transferrable to any group:
- Courageous Vulnerability. It takes courage to stand fully in who you are, what you believe and value AND at the same time be open to the differences in the whole.
- Trust through Action. Our behaviors often speak louder than who we say we are. If you show up late at events, meetings etc., it may be difficult to ‘trust’ that you respect others’ time. Leadership in collaboration challenges us to check how we are showing up and if that is in alignment with our words.
- Expect Conflict! That doesn’t mean fighting, it means that people will have differences of opinions which sometimes may create push-back. If people are to be authentic, they will have their voice and that is important.
- Continually Communicate. This is ‘the secret’ to high levels of collaboration: continuous communication based on authenticity, appreciating differences and allowing for the conflict will bring the group to consensus.
- Reach Consensus. Fighting is demanding ‘a way’. Conflict combined with continual communication brings about consensus. We all benefit from consensus as it moves us forward with the strength of the whole.
Play to Strengths
- When we are in our ‘strengths’ — what comes naturally and easy to us, what we find joy and pleasure in doing — our energy is tenfold! When people are in their strengths (as I described in our dinner party scenario), the outcome is enjoyment, achievement and a sense of ‘job well done’.
Recognize and Reward
- Say “Thank You”. At the end of our dinner party, thank you’s, kisses and hugs were all exchanged. Everyone demonstrated a recognition and appreciation for our time together. I realized that time was created by the synergy of eight people, authentically showing up, being completely different in who we are as individuals, playing to the strengths that we each bring to the whole and rewarding each other by recognizing the enjoyment created with a hug and a kiss! In the workplace you may not be hugging and kissing; however, recognizing someone publicly with a thank you is just as good!
- Final word on recognition: sometimes we have to help others ‘recognize’ themselves. It has been through others recognizing me, helping me to see my strengths and character that I have been lead on my journey to authenticity. Allow your recognition and reward to support others in seeing the best side of them.