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Leadership Derailers: Self-Reliance

Two-year olds exclaim, “I’ll do it by myself.” But everything leaders hope to accomplish will eventually be done by others.

Merriam Webster defines self-reliance simply as, “reliance on one’s own efforts and abilities.”

You aren’t leading if you can do it yourself.

The dark side of self-reliance is disconnection.

Connection and collaboration are messy. It’s easier to dictate from a distance than collaborate in relationship.

Bodies around the table don’t indicate connection with the team.

Mindless compliance gives the illusion of collaboration.

3 collaboration questions:

When was the last time…

  1. Someone disagreed with you?
  2. You explored several alternatives instead of running with the first idea?
  3. You said, “What do you think?” (And listened deeply.)

12 collaboration skills:

  1. Respect for colleagues’ contributions.*
  2. Openness to experimenting with others’ ideas.*
  3. Sensitivity to how one’s actions may affect both colleagues’ work and the mission’s outcome.*
  4. Let others speak without interruption so that you understand their contribution. (Perhaps the toughest challenge of collaboration.)
  5. Declare your point of view with confidence AND willingness to learn.
  6. Thank people when they disagree or offer alternatives.
  7. Embrace new ideas. Reflect on new ideas with a “what might work” approach, before shooting ideas down.
  8. Develop emotional intelligence. Notice how you occur to others, for example.
  9. Ask open ended questions. (I asked Tom Rath, author of Strengthsfinders 2.0, about asking questions. 1:06)
  10. Define the problem and the goal. Explore the path forward.
  11. Know the strengths of fellow team members. You can’t collaborate until you know and respect what others do well.
  12. Have some fun. Effective collaboration is enhanced by strong relationships. Know each other’s formative stories.

“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linkedin

Collaboration is an act of trust.

What hinders or blocks collaboration?

What leadership qualities best facilitate collaboration?

Bonus material:

*Francesa Gino, November – December 2019 HBR

10 Simple Ways to Build a Collaborative, Successful Work Environment (Entrepreneur)

Coming soon: Interview with Tom Rath about his new book, “Life’s Great Question.” 2/4/2020


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