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As I prepare to design and facilitate an upcoming workshop on collaboration, I’m reflecting on the hurdles that often hinder our ability to work together effectively.

Drawing insights from Emmanuel Gobillot‘s excellent book “Disciplined Collaboration,” I aim to dissect these common fears and suggest practical ways to overcome them peppered through my own 20 year experience in senior leadership. consulting and coaching roles.

A. Identifying the Fears

  1. Loss of Personal Value: Professionals may hesitate to share their expertise, worrying, “What will I become if I divulge all I know?” The antidote lies in recognizing that one’s value extends beyond knowledge; it includes their values, stories, and the ability to inspire and empower others.

  2. Fear of Loss of Quality: There’s a concern that collaboration might compromise output quality. Alignment on core values, a unified vision, and integrated systems can alleviate such fears, ensuring that quality remains intact.

  3. Fear of Loss of Momentum: Past experiences of delays can make one wary of depending on others. Yet, balancing speed with collective effort can lead to more significant progress.

  4. Fear of Loss of Control: Relying on others introduces uncertainties. Building trust and adopting a disciplined approach to collaboration can mitigate this fear.

B. The Right Time for Collaboration

Collaboration isn’t always the answer. It’s essential to discern when it’s beneficial versus other interactions:

  • Completion: Solo task execution, such as an analyst preparing a report independently.

  • Competition: Healthy rivalry, where sales teams vie to outperform for client acquisition.

  • Consultation: Seeking expertise, as when a developer asks for legal advice on software compliance.

  • Co-operation: Shared efforts, like marketers and product teams aligning on a launch strategy.

  • Collaboration: Joint innovation, where, for example, finance and tech teams develop a new fintech product.

C. The Elephant in the Room

Navigating the complex web of workplace relationships is often the trickiest part. It’s not just about the collective ‘we’ but also about strengthening the individual ‘I’. Building character, working with a coach, bolstering assertiveness, and mastering the art of constructive challenge without creating friction are essential. These are the nuanced facets of professional growth that turn potential conflicts into opportunities for collaboration.

D. Join the Conversation

Have you faced these fears in your workplace? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

And don’t miss out on the latest episode of The MARVEL Talks podcast with Dr. Marianna Prokopi-Demetriades, as we delve into the nexus of innovation, business, and leadership. Watch here.

As usual I look forward to hearing from you!


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