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Leadership Q&A: Collaboration is not a networking strategy.

Crowd - 101812716_fa54b0f418 It is a impact strategy.

I don’t know how many situations that I’ve been in that were billed as collaborative, but were not.

What were they?

They were networking opportunities for people to get something they wanted without any commitment or contribution.

The takers ruined it for the givers.

Collaboration is like so many things. A terrible misunderstanding that leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

Collaboration isn’t networking.

Collaboration isn’t primarily a way to meet and greet in order to get more business. It isn’t a way to use people to get in the door of a business that would be closed to you otherwise.

Collaboration isn’t a fancy term for a committee. You know what a committee is … three people who don’t have the time and one person who likes to do it his own way. That is not what collaboration is.

Precisely, what is collaboration and how do we do it?

Collaboration is how WE create impact.

Impact is simply the difference WE make when we pool our resources, our good will and our effort to achieve something we can’t do on our own.

To define impact requires us to define what our values are. Values are the glue that makes good collaboration possible.  No values. Very little prospect for a successful collaboration.

Collaboration is about how values unite a group of people together to achieve a goal rather than individuals simply working together.

Working together is just an activity. Just like going to the office, holding a meeting, drafting a letter, meeting with a client, and going home.  An activity is just something we do

Collaboration is not an activity. It is how WE achieve impact.

If this seems confusing, then remember this.

Collaboration is not a tactic or a technique. It is a living, active embodiment of the values that drive a group of people together to invest themselves in achieving a shared goal.

If this has not been your experience, then ask yourself this.

Who are the people that I know who have a passionate commitment to the same values that I have?

Find those people and together decide what difference you can make together. Then go do it. This is what it means to collaborate.

Picture credit: Katmere – http://www.flickr.com/photos/katmere/101812716/

About the author

Dr. Ed Brenegar I'm a leadership speaker, writer and consultant who is a mentor and catalyst for change. I assist leaders and their teams in the transitions required to succeed in today's complex organizational environment. I live in Western North Carolina. I'm involved the Boy Scouts, a charitable leadership training group called Lessons In Leadership, an ordained Presbyterian Church USA minister, and am the host of the Say Thanks Every Day social network.

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