Producing Results Blog

3 Steps to a More Collaborative Team

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I was just listening to an interview with one of the world’s top leadership experts, my friend and colleague Mark Sanborn. He was asked how leadership has changed over the past several years. Here’s what he said:

“The biggest change I’ve seen in leadership is not among leaders but among followers…. The principles by and large haven’t changed, but the people whom we lead really don’t think of themselves as followers. They think of themselves as team members or collaborators.

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This struck a note for me, and took me back to my 15 years as the Executive Producer of a comedy TV show in Seattle. Although I was, by title, the “boss,” it always felt like more of a collaboration to me. Very rarely did something make it on to the show simply because I said so; it was almost always by mutual agreement.

Yes, there were times when I had to “put on the producer hat” and be the boss. Leadership does come with responsibility. But for the majority of those 15 years, it was less “me and them” and more “us.”

So if Mark is correct, and the people you lead think of themselves as collaborators rather than followers, the question is, how are you thinking of them?

Do you treat your employees like followers or collaborators? #leadership Click To Tweet

The way you think of those you lead shapes the way you treat those you lead. It may be subtle—you may not even be consciously aware of it—but it has an impact. Even though you may not be aware of this impact, you can be sure that they are.

The way you think of those you lead shapes the way you treat those you lead. #leadership Click To Tweet

So, how can you make sure your team is a collaborative one?

1. Make sure everyone’s on the same bus.

According to a survey of 23,000 employees conducted by Harris Interactive, only 37% of employees understood what their employer was trying to achieve and why. That’s astounding! How can anyone feel like they’re collaborating if they don’t even know what they’re collaborating on? As a leader, you need to make sure everyone on your team understands the big picture, and how they fit into it.

2. Be open with your communication.

Yes, yes, I get that you already know this. All the books about leadership, all the articles, all the training talks about the importance of open communication. So you’ve heard it. But are you doing it? And what does “open communication” even mean? It means being honest with your feedback, both good and bad. It means listening to the ideas of your team members—including the quiet ones! It means sharing, to the extent that you’re able, information you receive from upper management that affects your team. And it means giving your team not just the “what,” but also the “why.

3. Treat everyone with respect.

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect you? Not much fun, is it? It’s the same in the workplace. People like to collaborate with those whom they respect, and who show them respect in return. So treat your team with respect.

By working as collaborators, my team won more than 100 Emmy® awards and enjoyed 10 straight years of #1 ratings. What can you accomplish with your collaborative team?

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About the Author:

For 15 years, Executive Producer and Hall of Fame speaker Bill Stainton, CSP led his team to more than 100 Emmy Awards and 10 straight years of #1 ratings.Today Bill helps leaders achieve those kinds of results--in THEIR world and with THEIR teams.
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