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  • Writer's picturesabina strachan

How collaborative are you?

Whether or not a collaboration will be effective ultimately depends on the people involved. And that starts with you. So, how collaborative are you?

It is important to know what collaboration is, what it's for, and why you want to collaborate. But in order for collaboration to succeed, you need to approach it in the right way. And to do that, you need a collaborative mindset.

First, you need to know that working collaboratively is the best way to approach a given issue. Once you've established that, the success of the collaboration is all about the beliefs and behaviours of you and your co-collaborators. And your behaviours are a result of your beliefs or 'attitudes' combined with your characteristics or 'soft skills'.

A good collaborator needs to be open and empathetic. This involves letting go of fixed ideas and allowing yourself to be influenced by others. It means adapting to other people's priorities, capacity and ways of working. And it means being open to opportunities, learning and personal improvement.

We might not realise or readily admit that we have fixed ideas and ways of working or that we feel that our own objectives should be the main priority. However, it is not uncommon for attempts at collaboration to fail. Are lack of resources, competing priorities or external pressures always the reasons why?

If you approach working together in an open way, you will be able to commit to a shared outcome. You will understand and accept that there is no leader or strongest voice. You will be open to the perspectives of others in the group, encourage negotiation and allow your own position to be influenced. This means that you will be working collaboratively.

If you are open and empathetic you're likely to want to collaborate and already have a collaborative mindset. If you want to collaborate but recognise that your ideas tend to be less readily influenced, then you can choose to become more open and empathetic. If you want your collaborations to be successful in challenging situations, then being resilient and adaptable are also key. Future blogs will describe ways to overcome barriers that can get in the way of effective collaboration.

If you want collaboration to be as effective as possible, it will be easier to achieve this working within a collaborative culture. What is 'collaborative culture' and how is it created and sustained? That is the subject of the next glu blog.

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