Five Key Principles of Collaborative Behavior

There are 5 key principles that define a collaborative approach in dealing with others. Under each of the principles lie a number of skills and behaviors. In this blog, I would simply like to outline these 5 key contributors.

The acronym we use to help you remember these principles is UNITE.

Utilize Differences
This means actively seeking input from a variety of sources. Recognizing that you don’t have all the answers and that others bring knowledge, experience and expertise to the party. People want to feel like they have something to contribute-that they can make a difference.
Difference often brings debate. Yet differences are needed for innovation and problem solving, so encourage debate. Creativity comes from difference not sameness.

Nurture Safety and Trust
Creating an environment where people feel valued and recognized. This enables people to make their maximum contribution without fear of retribution or judgment. This psychological safely is built on trust. Trust between leader, followers, and team members themselves. It is OK to be who you are and to take risks. Allow people to take risks. If mistakes are made, treat them as learning opportunities. When debriefs occur so does learning.

Involve Others in Creating a Clear Purpose, Values and Goals
It is the leader’s responsibility to draft the vision and direction but then it is essential to get feedback from every level from top to department to team to individual. Same with values, there has to be agreement on what they are and what they mean. People want to do a good job; they want to do the right thing. Involving others gives clarity and brings alignment.
I love Lencione’s quote “When all your people are aligned and all rowing in the same direction, you can beat any competition, in any market at any time.“. But how do you get this kind of passion? It can’t be mandated. The answer is involving others in crafting the purpose and values.

Talk Openly
Open communication is vital to collaboration. It involves sharing relevant information, not just with a select few, but with many. If you expect people to make better decisions, they have to have the information. Better to err on the side of over communication rather than under. If people don’t know something, they fill in the blanks
Talk openly is not just about sharing information, it is about sharing yourself, being vulnerable, speaking your truth, being willing to have your voice heard. It is about listening, giving and receiving honest feedback and modeling what you want.

Empowering Self and Others
Empowering Self and Others is about building a workplace of self-leaders. Individuals willing to step up and take responsibility. In this environment, everyone is responsible to contribute to achieve the goal. Power lies less on position and more on expertise and networks.
To achieve this environment means an emphasis on:

  • Continual learning
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Creating networks
  • Teaching others
  • Providing opportunities for learning
  • Cross training
  • And self-development

Closing comment

Exhibiting the behaviors embedded in these 5 key principles is essential to building a collaborative culture. And the responsibility for doing so lies in each of us individually. It all begins with you. For a more in-depth understanding of these keys principles and best practices, please refer to our new book, Collaboration Begins with You: Be a Silo Buster by Ken Blanchard, Jane Ripley and Eunice Parisi-Carew

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