Alright Stop. Collaborate and Listen.

Perhaps the best advice one can glean from a Vanilla Ice song are the words of this article’s title… Leaders today, more than ever before, must be willing to regularly stop what they’re doing and be collaborative. Far too often leaders assume that the direction they set is the best (or only) path forward. The ever growing number of millennial team members at all levels of organizations requires a growing openness to listen to their feedback and collaborate on decision making. Though hard to admit for some, this approach will also yield the greatest results for growth of your business and your people.

Tips for Effective Collaboration:

1. Invert the pyramid – if you’re at the top of your organizational or departmental structure, turn the manpower chart upside down and give yourself the least amount of say. Go to the largest group (now at the top) and ask them how they would make the decision. Have an open and honest dialogue weighing out pros and cons. Chances are they will arrive at a similar direction to what you would have plotted. If not, their recommendation may very well be better.

2. Listen and remember – just taking the time to listen to your team’s thoughts will have an immediate positive effect. It increases how valued they feel by you and the organization, and expands their mindset about the problems and processes the organization is facing which grows their investment. If you can also remember the input they provide and circle back to them about it repeatedly in the future, you will truly have their buy in.

3. Retain the burden – collaboration is not the same as delegation. It’s important that as you seek input and ideas, you don’t dump responsibility on those who shouldn’t have it. Perhaps they can own a piece of the project, but as the leader you bear the burden. Get their feedback, weigh it out, and then make the best decision.

4. Lose the praise – as you find success, be quick to pass all the credit and praise to those you collaborated with. Even if they only had the idea and you did all the work, loudly inform all you can about whose concept you employed. Your team members will be thankful and give you their loyalty, and your manager will be impressed with your selflessness.

The more you collaborate effectively, the more your business and your team will grow. Seems like a positive approach that everyone would follow, but so many leaders just do not. Why? Ego, sense of self-importance, feeling of superiority, fear of admitting weakness, etc, etc… Don’t be your own worst enemy and by doing so limit your overall effectiveness. Individuals can go a long way, but teams always go further.

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