How Do Your Collaboration Skills Stack Up?

Over the last few articles we have talked about the new and classic skills that all good leaders must embrace in our new world business economy.

Here is one for you that has only recently started to appear in the top management skills deemed necessary to succeed in a world dominated by global project teams and our virtual world; collaboration.

If you head over to Wikipedia the current definition as I write this is:

Collaboration is working with each other to do a task and to achieve shared goals.

[1] It is a recursive [2] process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals.

Straightforward? Yet it can prove one of the biggest headaches organisations face. When two or more people are working towards a goal, a number of factors will come into play.

Think, ego, ownership, authority, competition; this is just a small sample of the issues that people come to me with, which means there are many more they don’t mention!




The good news is that there are some great management skills you can utilise that will help you make collaboration so much easier.

Communication and influencing skills, relationship building, conflict resolution and negotiation. Are obvious choices. An understanding of the underlying politics of a situation is immensely helpful; a lack of appreciation of this key element consistently causes issues for naïve managers.

Collaboration is a beautiful thing to experience, and it takes work.

As a first step I would always recommend developing your own personal influence and impact. It is a foundational step to becoming a great leader. Developing your ‘presence’ can totally transform the way people relate to you and how your ideas are accepted within an organisation.

For me communication skills and understanding people’s preferences and styles are logical steps. There are many models you can utilise and I have found insights a useful tool. My own positive experiences of the results it can create helped my decision to become an insights practitioner.

By understanding people you then have an opportunity to know how to influence them in a way that will produce a positive result for everyone concerned. Relationship building is all part of the process and by understanding what drives your colleagues and team you then have additional choices in the way you respond.

In any collaborative project negotiation will raise its head. Ideally if you have worked on your influencing and impact skills conflict shouldn’t occur as a regular thing. When it comes to negotiation you are looking for a situation or agreement that works for both parties and the project as a whole. This is likely to necessitate give and take and flexibility.

I have left the best until last. Navigating politics. Every organisation has politics running through it. It doesn’t matter if there are 20 or 20,000 employees. Your job is to ensure you are mindful of them and yet not to the extent of sabotaging a project completion. Everyone will have their own agenda no matter how skillful they are and you need to identify what that is; enter the skills we have talked about today.

What could you do now? If you are working in a collaboration situation  at the moment; what is working? What isn’t and understand why in both cases. You mind need to dig deep and thinking through some of the things we have shared today I am sure you will find the answer.

Until next time,


Julia Carter