What habits should people practice to be a better collaborator at work?

The best collaborators and leaders have strong opinions weakly held

To inspire and drive innovation business leaders and entrepreneurs need to be, not just collaborative, radically collaborative. But before you embrace “radical collaboration”, you have to understand and put in practice habits that lead towards it.

Networking, or the ability to collaborate with a diverse set of people, is a key innovation skill. It’s not just about collaborating to develop business deals, but to develop new ideas. This is very challenging for many people and organizations because they’re usually very stubborn in how they do things, and are not actively looking to shift their perspective.

Next week I’ll give a talk at a Human Resources event on creating a culture of innovation. This is a very broad topic which I’ve written about many times, there are two habits that people should practice to be a better collaborator at work: psychological safety and intellectual humility.

Psychological Safety

Innovation only happens when you think and act differently. With that said, do people feel safe expressing themselves? And no I don’t mean they only speak to answer questions when asked; they also ask questions and seek answers on their own and are empowered to do so.

In a culture of innovation people feel safe to air out their opinions and ideas without fear of being shunned, ignored or punished for doing so. Also important, you have to celebrate

Intellectual Humility

Intellectual humility is like open-mindedness. It is basically an awareness that your beliefs may be wrong. Another way to frame this is to “have strong opinions weakly held”.

What it looks like in practice

They easiest technique to use to avoid getting people on the defensive is saying “I could be wrong, but…” before hitting them with your argument.

Bottom line: The best collaborators and leaders have strong opinions weakly held.

Also published on Medium.

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