The Value of Collaboration
How do you define collaboration and where does it fit in your decision making process? Many of us tend to either overestimate what collaboration entails and may signify or underestimate its value and the benefits we can gain from collaborating with others.
Let’s start with what collaboration involves and the many ways it may be applicable to a decision you are considering or a project, on which you are working. In its simplest form, collaboration is merely the interaction and communication between people, initiated with the purpose of achieving a desired result. Typically, the desired result is a well-rounded and thoroughly thought out decision.
Defined in that way, it would seem perfectly logical and reasonable for you to seek out collaboration whenever and wherever necessary. Often times, however, you may find several reasons for not involving others. The reasons range from the belief that you may be imposing on someone by asking them to get involved in your matter to the worry that you may appear weak if you have to ask for someone else’s help.
In most cases, we enjoy being asked to give our opinion. It is a boost to our own self-worth when someone we know and care about asks us for our opinion or for some assistance in making a decision. For many of us, it is within our nature to want to be helpful. We are built to interact with others and to enjoy social lives. An important aspect of social behavior is discussion with others and the mutual sharing of ideas and views.
The person who is asked for their opinion or assistance will almost always learn something from the collaboration as well, whether it is a new vantage point or a different perspective. Not only is it not an imposition when we ask others about what they think, it is usually a mutually rewarding experience.
For those of you who may worry that you would appear to be weak if you asked someone else for help, you could not be more mistaken. The best decision makers are the ones who realize that it is imperative to gain as much of an understanding of a matter or situation as is possible and applicable before they ultimately decide and act.
No matter how experienced you may be in your chosen field, you will never know all that there is to know. You will never have every experience there is to experience. While your colleague won’t either, including him or her in your decision-making process will add to your knowledge and increase your chances of making a more thorough choice. You will be much more likely to gain additional information and to learn something that you, otherwise, would not have thought about.
Asking for an opinion or view should never be confused with absolving yourself of the responsibility of making the decision. The best leaders know that they will go further toward achieving their goals, and those of their organization, by being inclusive rather than exclusive in their decision-making. Including additional thoughts and ideas is a big part of responsible decision-making and it does not, in any way, dilute the accountability of the person with the ultimate authority to make the decision.
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union
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