While working with a client last week, I ran into some glitches on how I should design a training program for their leaders. We knew what the topic was, but it was unclear what the objectives were. Although they had committed to being a 10X organization, as described by Jim Collins in his renowned book, Great By Choice, I wasn’t certain how to connect the learning to that theme. So we decided to bring in the senior leader of the team to hash out our direction instead of working with only the information I originally received. And boy was I glad we waited!
Funny thing about bringing in more voices-ideas expand and dialogue explodes! Collaboration can transform problem solving from being stuck to finding a creative solution.
Yet, there are some leaders who are afraid to open up their fact gathering because they think they need to own a process. They obsess that they will lose control or that their ideas will get lost. Great leaders know that just the opposite is true-the more suggestions, the stronger the final outcome. I’m not saying that a collection of unlimited opinions is the best strategy either. So how do you collaborate with your team to cultivate the best problem solving strategy and solution?
BELIEVE AND TRUST IN YOUR TEAM:
As all effective leaders know, we are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. So make sure you have the best talent with the right skill set. Have faith in your team members- your future leaders. It’s ok if there are diverse personalities and backgrounds as long as each individual’s talents and strengths are valued. A culture of trust can enable a difficult problem solving session.
BE OPEN TO DIFFERENT IDEAS:
If we want to brainstorm new and innovative suggestions, then we have to be welcoming. How would you feel if someone “put down” the ideas you felt were important to the team’s success? Would you want to continue contributing or might you just shut down? We also know the “piggy-back” effect on idea generation; ideas beget even better ideas. Being judgmental not only can eliminate valuable suggestions, but can also result in an inferior end result.
USE CRITERIA TO NARROW DOWN:
Ask for input from your team to create benchmarks to apply to all of your proposals. By using certain standards to evaluate, we deveIop a helpful way to look at the recommendations. I have found that devising a visual grid can be helpful to whittle down the more powerful concepts.
USE POSITIVE LANGUAGE:
Whenever collaborating with others, we need to be aware of our choice of words. Instead of saying: ” I think that is a good point, BUT…”, say, ” I think that is a good point AND I would add…” The word AND is inclusive and shows we have value for what others are contributing. Instead of saying, ” That way of doing it is wrong!”, say ” I think we might want to explore this way too.”
Are you ready to be a collaborative leader? How have you collaborated with a team?