Infighting blocks progress.

How often do you see that headline?

Government Executive, an American trade magazine, recently reported that a lack of collaboration created a challenge between the Defense Contracting Audit Agency and the Defense Contracting Management Agency. The article discusses the challenge they have related to working with a contractor.  Might make you wonder how much money is wasted because of a lack of collaboration.

What causes an inability to collaborate?  Leaders everywhere must ask themselves that, beginning by looking in circles around their own desk.  First, ask the team how they collaborate.  This can lead to an excellent coaching and learning conversation. What would happen if the leader of a team asked his colleagues to provide the following information:

Who do you collaborate with outside our team/agency/department?

Why do you collaborate with them?

What results do you get from that collaboration?

What lessons did you learn from that type of collaboration?

Providing information on these collaborative contacts can help leaders understand where key connectors are outside of the office. These connectors are the key processes or individuals moving the issue effortlessly across boundaries.

Through a rudimentary analysis of these outside contacts, leaders can learn the barriers and perhaps even gaps in collaboration that may need bridging.  Barriers can be formal and required, such as legislation needed to keep contractors and regulators separate. Barriers can also be informal and ill-advised, such as challenges with authority, power, and ego.

Identifying the collaborative networks is the leader’s job.  It helps the leader and the team fully realize their reach and their resources.  Understanding this reach helps the leader determine the formal and informal barriers to process and communicate within the office.

A complete picture of collaboration allows the leader to identify the strengths and challenges of both formal and informal barriers, developing tools to create a more efficient process.  This efficiency, built on a strong sense of direction, can reinforce alignment within the team and outside the team, increasing the team’s effectiveness. When effectiveness increases and is recognized by key stakeholders, it leads to increased commitment, both internal and external to the team.

In essence, collaboration equals greater commitment.  Think of what that commitment can do to.  It may just lead to less infighting and better governance.

How well has collaboration worked within your organization?

~Clemson Turregano

4 thoughts on “Collaborative Commitment

  1. Clemson,
    I agree completely with your emphasis on the need to understand the connection networks of our work teams. But I don’t think you’ve addressed a major obstacle to fulfilling the promise of that approach: motivation.
    In my experience, most people at work (and especially leaders) are so focused on the task, goal, objective, that they have become blind to the needs that their work is supposed to be meeting. As a result, they are motivated only to do things that seem to point directly to those focal points. That is a narrow focus that is frequently crippling. The implication for leadership development is that leaders must believe that there is more to being effective, productive, and innovative than simply getting today’s work done more efficiently.
    A creative leadership style will have the outcome of effectiveness, but it may do so by more indirect means. Understanding connections is an important ANALYTIC element of change and development, but in my opinion it must be accompanied by a broader conception on the part of the leader of what inspires people to work, to change, and to take chances.

  2. Clemson,
    I agree completely with your emphasis on the need to understand the connection networks of our work teams. But I don’t think you’ve addressed a major obstacle to fulfilling the promise of that approach: motivation.
    In my experience, most people at work (and especially leaders) are so focused on the task, goal, objective, that they have become blind to the needs that their work is supposed to be meeting. As a result, they are motivated only to do things that seem to point directly to those focal points. That is a narrow focus that is frequently crippling. The implication for leadership development is that leaders must believe that there is more to being effective, productive, and innovative than simply getting today’s work done more efficiently.
    A creative leadership style will have the outcome of effectiveness, but it may do so by more indirect means. Understanding connections is an important ANALYTIC element of change and development, but in my opinion it must be accompanied by a broader conception on the part of the leader of what inspires people to work, to change, and to take chances.

  3. Anne Egros says:

    Hi Clemson,
    I think leaders should stop leading and let employees drive the innovation by their ideas. The role of a leader is to give perspective and context to innovate and provid less directions.
    Anne

  4. Anne Egros says:

    Hi Clemson,
    I think leaders should stop leading and let employees drive the innovation by their ideas. The role of a leader is to give perspective and context to innovate and provid less directions.
    Anne

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