How to use Collaboration as a Tool for Growth and Success

Most talented business owners agree that collaboration consistently provides greater accomplishment when it works.  A combination of the mind, great attitude, and aptitude together with capacity and intelligence can solve complex problems and achieve amazing results. But in spite of all of that, people are hesitant to engage in the process, and that is understandable for many people, you and I included.  We have lost friendships, perhaps family members, and we may have so many different stories about collaborating because of our inability to manage personalities and people’s needs. Notwithstanding, collaborating as a tool for growth and success can be highly effective, and we can all experience progress, wins, and breakthroughs in our businesses, in our workplaces, and in the programs we are building. We can all benefit greatly when it’s done well.

Careful Selection

Based on the complexity of the job, objective, experiment, or activity, think of who might be the right fit to bring along with you.  You may need one or several people, depending on the needs of what the work demands.  There are a few qualities I believe you would have to assess before deciding as to who’s going to come on board with you.  Think compatibility, values, beliefs.  How relaxed is that individual or individuals?  Can they find ways to have fun when the pressure is on?  Are you able to learn from them based on their giftedness?  Is the individual creative, decisive, process-driven, and steady?  Are you able to adjust to or learn from the good habits of the people you intend to collaborate with?  And are you willing to challenge yourself and learn to be better if some of these areas are not a source of your strengths? 

It is crucial to understand what is most important coming into a collaborative relationship.  You must be able to ask yourself if it is values and growth-oriented or if it is just purely for monetary benefits.  If it is the latter, then we are all in a world of trouble.  Think of collaboration as an investment portfolio. You spread the risk over different types of investments. After all, if one piece of the pie chart does not work, you work on what is left.

Purposeful Collaboration

Collaboration is not just about coming together to work on a specific project.  Think of it as working on yourself, as a business owner, or on a team in the workplace.  As a business owner, I have no doubt that you have experienced success in some form.  Think of how you can increase productivity with sharper thinking by engaging in conversations that can improve understanding of the project at hand.  Think of the power of the creativeness taking place.  One of the things I told myself was that I was not creative. It is disappointing to think that we sometimes talk about ourselves in such negative terms, only to realize that it is just our limited beliefs taking charge. 

Collaboration also helps to provide scalability in our projects and businesses.  We have so much to offer, so much to bring to the table when we give ourselves a chance.  I urge each one of you to celebrate these victories.  While we are honoring ourselves, remember to share your observations with others who are part of the collaborative effort, tell them what you observe about their work, and do it with admiration and genuine authenticity.  These words will become a power boost because you’ve just made someone else feel valued.  That energizes passion, it creates a desire to do much more with excellence and integrity. 

Collaboration Inspires

It can be so frustrating for people when the balance of power tilts to one side in a collaborative effort or when collaboration just isn’t working.  You wouldn’t want to work alongside anyone who is always late, unreliable, and can hardly hold their end of the bargain.  Such behaviors lack professionalism.  When people talk about collaboration, these are some of the problems that some people have to face until completion of the project because boundaries and expectations were not set.  To prevent this, set clear guidelines.  Those in collaborative relationships need to understand how to be responsible and accountable.  This has to be clearly communicated and understood.  The process of collaboration should inspire.  We should feel safe about depending on each other, that we are working together on something bigger than ourselves, that our contribution is valuable, and we should also feel grateful for the bonds we can form with each other.

Proverbs 27:17 in the NKJV states that “Iron sharpens iron; So, a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

We feel rewarded when the collaborative process works well.   We are able to save time and save money.  Good partners in a collaborative relationship can see further than just one person can and can stretch each other’s capabilities in ways they could never imagine.  Collaboration pushes us to become explorers.  Regardless of the type of business you own or the industry you operate in, collaboration can be a powerful tool for growth and success.

How to Expand

We show a willingness to be our best by bringing our best selves to the table, doing what is required of us at a high level with all the good intentions.  We express a non-verbal agreement to be respectful of each other, to always be prepared, to speak to each other candidly, to make our best contribution, and to become better at what we do, and to bring forth the desired results.  The results will be our reward.  My coach, mentor, and friend, Dr. John C Maxwell, says that “When you combine the thoughts you have with the thoughts of others, you will come up with thoughts you never had.”

Bring Your Network

Collaboration is wonderful.  Together we are better, and we achieve more.  Being successful requires that we are consistently building a list of contacts and creating new relationships.  You definitely cannot grow if you rely on the same group all the time.  When we collaborate, we bring our network with us, and our network brings their network with them.  There’s nothing to lose here.  If we do this right, we can become much better, we can grow, and we can be even more successful.  A good collaboration can only encourage us to repeat the process because there are so many unbelievable pros.  You will learn new skills, you will develop new habits, and you will be strengthening your leadership muscles during the process.  You can’t learn everything; you can’t do everything.  But, you can find someone else, or many others, to bring together to do something magnificent.  With collaboration, you can go out and make a big difference in the lives of others.  Results matter, personally and financially, and these are the two main reasons why people collaborate.

In the end,

1. Know who you want to collaborate with, and exercise trust.

2. Set and give others the main stage, but share the roles.

3. Ask good questions and be open-minded.

4. Bring your network and build influence.  Remember, collaboration is good because we cannot do it all on our own.  Even Jedi Masters have bad days.


Author: Maggie Jean

Maggie Jean has worked for a number of years, at top executive levels in the Banking and Retail Industries. One of the roles she most enjoyed developing and preparing emerging leaders to perform in higher roles of responsibility and accountability. Currently Maggie is the CEO of her own business, MJ’s Coaching and Business Solutions LLC, where she provides services and solutions tailored to small and mid size businesses to train, develop and equip high performing leaders who will function well under pressure, manage time efficiently, improve employee and customer engage, increase productivity, while communicating and collaborating successfully as a team to beat overall targeted goals. Maggie Jean is a Certified and Licensed Facilitator at the Executive Director level with The John Maxwell Team.