The cure to the paradox of collaboration
I spent the weekend on a retreat with 29 other people – people from diverse backgrounds, occupation, ethnicity, sexuality, culture.
We began the retreat sitting in a large circle and one by one each person shared their name, where they came from geographically and where they felt they were at this time in their lives.
As each person spoke, I heard the check list in my head went: “like me, not like me”. I was filled with excitement at times when I related directly to someone. Other times, I struggled to feel anything at all.
We like people who are like us. We can’t help it and we are wired that way. When people are like us, we know how to communicate, we know what to expect, we know how to be. We feel comfortable. We feel safe.
What we also know is that to create the best results, we need diverse teams. That means we need to work with people who are not like us. People who think differently, work differently, have different backgrounds, different perspectives – the paradox of collaboration.
This creates tension, but when the energy is channelled correctly, it generates constructive debate that leads to better outcomes.
The magic of collaboration and the need for diversity was highlighted in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody in the scene where Freddy Mercury looks to bring the band back together after he had departed and tried a solo career. He says this:
“I went to Munich, I hired a bunch of guys, I told them exactly what I wanted them to do … and the problem was … they did it. No push back from Roger, none of your rewrites, none of his funny looks. I need you. And you need me. Let’s face it, we’re not bad for 4 aging queens. So go ahead, name your terms.”
So, how do we bring diverse people together, tap into their strengths and create an environment that is safe and comfortable to enable great work to happen?
We need to prime the group for collaboration. That is, we need to make sure we take time to create an environment where people have what it takes to make them feel safe, to trust and feel connected so they can get on with the work of co-labour.
Trust is the foundation from which people can connect, grow and thrive. It is the foundation necessary to allow the group to become more than a sum of its parts. There are five key elements that contribute to building that trust:
- Build connection: The opportunity to share something personal, to connect emotionally helps to build connection.
- Equal voice: Everyone must feel they have the time to speak, the safe environment to say what needs to be said, to not be judged or shut down.
- Listen with curiosity: As a speaker, it’s is critical that you feel you can say what you need to without judgement. As a listener, you will gain more insight, more understanding if you can listen with curiosity.
- Like me (not like me): The sooner we find out what we have in common, find connection, the more quickly and easily we can leverage our strength of difference.
- Safe: When we feel safe, we can build trust.
Is your organisation ready for diversity? Are you ready to hire diverse Talent to help your business progress?
Cover image: Shutterstock
If you are looking to create a more collaborative team, or curious to find out more, please join us for this 2-hour immersive group workshop.
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