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Writer's Answer

"Collaboration is a key driver of overall performance of companies around the world. Its impact is twice as significant as a company’s aggressiveness in pursuing new market opportunities (strategic orientation) and five times as significant as the external market environment (market turbulence).

As a general rule, global companies that collaborate better, perform better. Those that collaborate less, do not perform as well. It’s just that simple.”Collaboration3

That is a pretty powerful claim. It is substantiated by a research study done through acollaborative effort of Frost & Sullivan, Microsoft, and Verizon. 

The researchers created a collaboration index to measure a company’s relative “collaborativeness” based on two main factors:

  • An organization’s orientation and infrastructure to collaborate, including collaborative technologies such as audioconferencing, Web conferencing and instant messaging
  • The nature and extent of collaboration that allows people to work together as well as an organization’s culture and processes that encourage teamwork

Do You Play Well With Others?

This may seem like an abrupt switch from the serious tone of the study. But I needed that kind of data to help lead into an important career trait: playing well with others.

The study is right on target by highlighting the need for the right tools, systems, and culture. Yet it ultimately comes down to the individual. If you work in a global organization, you've got some extra challenges: time zone differences, language differences, cultural differences in what constitutes teamwork...(add your own experience by sending a comment!)

I just spent 3 hours coaching a client who is now forced to deal with a highly intelligent, high-performing manager who isn't viewed as collaborative. By anyone.No oneatanyof their worldwide locations gave him decent feedback on teamwork and collaboration. And this has been happening for a few years. (He continues to achieve all of the goals set out for him--and no one dislikes him personally.)

His side of the story

I sat down and spoke with the manager some months ago about these perceptions and what that might mean to his career. He understood that people didn't see him as collaborative. His take on it is that they are universally wrong. He communicates when he believes it's necessary. I told him that he had to simply initiate more, share more information--even if it didn't make sense to him--and mend some strained relationships with those who thought he was actually hiding something. He  listened, gave intellectual rebuttals for why that didn't make sense, and chose not to do anything differently.

What happened?

His management career is least with his current employer. He'll probably have a shot at being an individual contributor in a specific discipline; but upward mobility is no longer a possibility.

Some people burn bridges. He never built them. We should take seriously the lessons we can learn from this real-life situation:

1. Organizations thrive because of collaboration. If you want to be seen as a player, then be one.

2. A high IQ doesn't compensate for low EQ. Your Emotional Quotient--your willingness and ability to relate and connect--can make or break your career.

3. Task resultsdon'talways matter if your behavior disrupts the rest of the system.

4. The study I cited noted the importance of processes, systems, and culture. This company's culture valued teamwork. That was one of their systems. Roesler's rule: Unless you have 51% of the vote, don't fight the system. The system ultimately prevails.

Photo source: Pacific Lutheran University

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