The Qualities of Authentic Collaboration

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Image credit: 4nitsirk via Flickr

I’ve been doing some strategic planning of late (something I do literally at 40,000 feet sitting in coach) and one of the things that I decided I had never done was articulate the values I hold for my organization. I mean, I know them, I live them, they guide my decisions, and maybe I’ve even expressed most of them in blog posts here, but I don’t know that I ever sat down and collected them in one spot.

As I created and refined my list I was struck by an overwhelming feeling that this list not only defined the best me, it defined what I really do for a living. The theme that kept coming up over and over again was collaboration. No matter what I do in my business, everything from writing this blog post to working on projects with virtual teams involves a quality of collaboration.

That’s the business that I think many of us, certainly those in the consulting and service industries, are in. I don’t really do things for people, I do things with people. I get a tremendous amount of help from forces seen and unseen on the things I claim to create and I provide collaborative support for the creations of others – even if it’s simply by penning a chapter in a book that sparks an innovation.

It’s a pretty awesome revelation for me so thanks for allowing me to share it.

Collaboration is a hot concept these days, as we’re all doing more and more work with virtual teams, but it’s not accomplished solely through the use of online apps. There’s an internal drive, or way of being, that must be present and alive for authentic collaboration to take place and I think this drive can inform the vision, values and mission of any organization.

So, here’s my first crack at what I’m now calling the qualities of authentic collaboration – this list just might make a pretty good guide for hiring, innovation, customer service, management and marketing, but please, collaborate with me on this list.

  • Grateful – you need to be thankful for where you are right now, what you have to give and what you’re prepared to receive in the process
  • Curious – it sure helps if you like to take things apart to see how they work and then put them back together in ways that might work anew
  • Practical – unless innovation can meet implementation there is no progress and perhaps no point – make sure you’ll stretch, but keep it real
  • Adaptable – there is always more than one way to get to the same place, consider the scenic route every now and then
  • Generous – give first, give freely, witness what happens and let the universe keep score
  • Courageous – it’s harder to say what’s so than to let something pass, but being ready to stand up and support a point of view may be the greatest contribution you can make
  • Accountable – do what you say and expect the very same in return


authentic collaboration

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