4 Keys To Healthy Team Collaboration
By: Jennifer Winge
One of the questions I ask in every interview I do is: “Can you tell me about your leadership style?” By far, the most common word I get in response is collaborative. Collaboration is a trendy new phrase in team leadership today. It sounds like an easy enough task with clear benefits, but implementation can vary in difficulty based on the team.
The question church leaders must ask themselves is, how can we gauge if we are truly creating a collaborative environment through our leadership? Use these 4 keys to model what a true collaborative environment means for your team.
1. Collaborative environments buy into situational leadership.
Who is leading your initiatives or projects? Is it always the same person? Situational leadership moves titles and job descriptions aside, acting purely on who is best fit for the task at hand. The best person to launch a social media initiative may not be your Communications Director. Your 20-year-old Student Ministry Intern may be the better fit.
Is your leadership team ready to cede responsibility where it might be necessary?
2. Collaborative environments hear the introverts.
Does the person with the loudest opinion decide on vision and implementation of your initiatives? A truly collaborative environment knows how to allow the quieter and/or introverted staff members to pitch their ideas in a safe environment.
Think back to the last time an introvert’s idea was implemented. If it’s been a while, this may be a sign that your workplace might not be as collaborative as you think.
It is important to acknowledge the different communication preferences of your staff by giving each person the ability to speak in the way that makes the most sense. Consider holding meetings with fewer people, giving the processors a day or two in advance to prepare for discussion. Similarly, don’t forget to ask specific questions to spur conversation about the meeting afterwards. Taking advantage of these tips will immediately increase your likelihood of maximizing your entire team’s effectiveness.
3. Collaborative environments not only work together within their team, but with other teams as well.
When your unique team is moving towards a similar vision, collaboration with other teams on staff becomes more natural. Having an environment where team lines can be easily blurred will allow easier collaboration on your entire staff. You will be presented with new opinions, perspectives, and wisdom, all shared for the sake of a common goal. The benefits to your team will be tenfold.
When is that last time you brought someone from another team in on a project?
4. Collaborative environments take intentionality.
The natural tendency of teams is for the strongest personality to lead the march and everyone fall in behind. Collaboration doesn’t do away with vision-casting; rather, it decides how it will be played out in the future. Strong leaders are often called to bring the quieter leaders out of their shells and empower them to have the buy in found only in a truly collaborative environment.
Team decisions and projects cannot not always be collaborative, but it is important to create the space for potential collaboration to grow. When it’s time for the team element to kick in, church leaders must assess if they’ve created a space where everyone’s voice is heard. If you want to know if your team thinks they live in a collaborative environment, just ask them. You might be surprised by what you hear.
How has your team implemented collaboration into your decisions?