I know, I really do, the thought of collaborating with others in your leadership or business fills you with dread.
You're torn between 'knowing it's a good idea' and the feeling that it will be too much hard work and possibly have too many downsides.
Well it doesn't have to, and good collaborations can be hugely exciting and rewarding. Here are my thoughts on what you can do to make collaboration work for you.
In no particular order here are my top 9 recommendations.
Think clearly ahead of time about why you want to collaborate, what you need the collaboration to achieve, and how you need it to work for you.
Collaborate on something you are passionate about. The passion you have will help you to maintain focus and navigate any challenges that arise.
Choose collaborators that do not have your skill-set. It can be exciting to think about collaborating with someone you know well in your field, but the greatest gains come from collaborating with someone outside of your field, who can challenge your thinking, broaden your network, and create new possibilities.
Collaborate with someone you trust. That means, if they are new to you don't just 'jump in' because they seem a good fit, get to know them enough to be able to judge whether you can work together or not. Have a trial period with clear terms of engagement and a deadline for committing to the collaboration or walking away.
Use your values as the basis of the collaboration. Being clear on what is important to you and communicating this to collaborators, as well as clarifying their values will help you to work out how to work together.
Create clear boundaries and terms of reference - what are each person/organisation's roles? What will they do? How will progress be reported/monitored/tracked?
Commit to radical candor - what does this mean? Well the tag-line to Kim Scott's book reads 'caring personally while challenging directly' and refers to prioritising clear, honest feedback and communication cycles within organisations. Whilst they may be uncomfortable to begin with, conversations like these will drive you towards your goals and help to nip any issues in their infancy.
Manage expectations from the get go. Drawing upon radical candor co-create the standard operating procedures of the collaboration with your collaborators. This will create buy-in and begin the development of collaboration-level identities which will serve to shift the collaboration from just another project to a meaningful joint enterprise in the minds of participants.
Co-create vision and mission statements. I love doing this with new groups, or even established groups. It enables all members to create a vision that they can work to and links this to the wider purpose of the group.