Friday, June 08, 2007

Collaboration and Leadership

Read a C&H strip today wherein Calvin’s dad says “If anything works in this world, it’s because one of us took charge”. Boy, he may have not spoken a truer word!

It’s difficult to sell the concept of collaboration to some because they aren’t patient enough to go that route, are not able to see its benefits, don’t have the people skills required to think and work together, are self-centred, are over-confident about their own abilities, would rather let their own accomplishments shine than end up sharing credit with others for an ultimately better result etc. It’s easy to sell collaboration to some because they are so lazy that they’d rather a lot of other people do the work while they just pop into the crowd once in a while and make others believe they have a role to play, are just plain uninterested and would rather not take any ownership and let others do all the work while they quietly relax in the background, believe they don’t have what it takes so they’d rather watch others work etc.

In the sessions wherein I’ve introduced the concept of collaboration, once I’ve attempted to convey the benefits of collaboration and pointed out the constraints that it operates under, I’ve always loved to point out the paradox of collaboration. Collaboration is wonderful when people are good at it and understand the intricacies of how to think and work together, but all said and done, there needs to be a leader who occupies the post at the steering wheel whenever that is called for.

I’d like to pass on Calvin’s dad’s message to any of us who mistakenly assumed collaboration helps avoid such ownership. Collaboration is essential; it is amazing; it is challenging; and it delivers wonderful results when done the right way. Leadership is inevitable, if results are to be achieved.

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