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Today, let’s take a look at how to collaborate – and why this is one of the most critical skills we have as women who want to make a difference in these times.
Why we’re wired for collaboration
All of us have experienced some degree of isolation this year, and that’s had an important effect on us.
After all, as a species, humans are naturally pack animals. We’re social, we exist in groups, and we’re drawn to connect and find power in groups.
Of course, let’s be real. Many of us already felt somewhat isolated or lonely before Covid-19 arrived.
Rushing from work to home to catch ups with family and friends, many of us have felt a sense of juggling many different masks. This is the phenomenon we often refer to as “Superwoman” syndrome – the pressure we have to be the perfect leader, the perfect colleague, the perfect friend, the perfect partner…
But lockdown has added an additional layer on to that.
It’s been a really difficult time.
And I think a lot of us have forgotten just how much we need to be able to rely on others – which is why this feels like such an important conversation to be having right now.
I believe we need to retrain our deep instinctive response to be able to reach out and actually rely on others.
To help us do that, let’s look at the difference collaboration can make.
There are 3 key gifts I believe powerful collaboration can bring us when it comes to making an impact.
I don’t think we always think about these enough – often we focus on the extra knowledge, or emotional support, being in a team can bring. Those are important too!
But these 3 gifts are components we need in order to create real, lasting change.
As I run through them, think about how present they are in your life. If they’re missing, read on for how to add them in…
The unexpected gifts of collaboration
We have a lot more joy when we do things with others, especially women. Some people absolutely have much more joy if they’re by themselves, but those people are at the extreme ends of the introversion spectrum.
Usually most people will find some joy in shared experiences. And that’s really important – it boosts us, it energises us, and it allows us to create change way beyond what’s possible when we’re just “pushing through”.
If you’re already in collaboration with others, check in – are you experiencing the joy of working together? Or do you tend to focus on problems and challenges? How could you bring more joy into your work together – even in a small way.
(In the One of many team, one of the ways we bring joy to our virtual team meetings is by ending with a dance party!)
Another gift of collaboration that I don’t always see people talking about is courage.
We see increased individual risk taking when we are working in collaboration with others. I know this from personal experience.
The only reason you see the version of Joanna Martin that you have is because of the people I work with. She’s who they expect to show up to work every day!
A lot of the time, this version of me is frankly FAR better than I actually feel inside! She’s way more awesome. Way more brave, way more articulate, way more together as a leader than I actually exist in my own inner world. And so for that reason, it calls the best of me forth.
I think here about medical teams, too.
If you’re in a critical situation with a patient and you’ve got a sounding board with people that you know, and trust, and you want to try something risky that you’ve never tried before, but it’s life and death – you’ve got a sounding board.
You can say “I’m think I’m going to try this”. And they say “Let’s do it”.
We can be more courageous collectively.
This final piece of collaboration holds the key, I think, to tackling the epidemic of overwhelm, burnout and stress. Because if we want to find a new way of working, and be more in our “soft power” – we have to be able to balance that with the more driven, action taking, goal-oriented side. This flow needs to happen across our whole lives. In our homes, with our partners, and at work.
And it would be impossible for most of us to achieve that level of balance while, for example, holding down a demanding full time job.
When we collaborate, we can share our vision and honour our individual cycles of rest and energy. We don’t all have to be in fierce action mode, and we don’t all have to retreat into deep, thoughtful creativity.
Together, we can do it all.
That’s why I sometimes worry about women who work by themselves – “solopreneurs” or freelancers, say – because that ability to collaborate is not there. If they’re trying to sweat it all out and do it by themselves.
So if that’s you, get creative about how you can collaborate if you are self-employed and in that kind of freelance environment.
So how can you create powerful spaces for collaboration?
Here are 3 critical components to remember if you want to know how to collaborate effectively.
#1 Set a shared intention
What’s the purpose of your collaboration? Is it a shared project, do you have a clear goal, or are you coming together to explore what’s possible?
There’s no one way to collaborate, but it’s important that everyone participating understands the intention and knows why it’s important.
#2 Know each other’s magic
What can you rely on each other for? What do you trust each other to do?
Some of these answers will come early on in collaborating – you can find out what other women have trained in, or what their skills are. But other aspects of this can only come when you’ve experienced what it’s actually like to collaborate. That’s when you learn the deeper magic you bring. Maybe one of you is fantastic at paying attention to detail, or spotting the potential pitfalls of a plan, or connecting to a big dream for what’s possible.
Make sure to keep reviewing, observing and naming the magic you each bring as you go.
#3 Create clear communication
And then part of magical collaboration is also agreeing on the process for collaboration. Some of that might be logistical – like agreeing when you’ll connect, and where, and how long for. Think also about what you’ll do if conflict arises. And consider the ways in which trust and credibility are built. It’s often in the spaces around the “real work” – the tea breaks, the chat before the call – that you begin to deepen the relationships you have with each other.
Communicating clearly, and regularly reviewing what is and isn’t working, will help you keep collaboration fresh.
Want more collaboration?
If you know you could do with more collaboration in your life, but aren’t sure who to connect with – we’ve got you. The One Woman Conference 2021 is happening 12-13 June and doors are now open for registration! This is an interactive, live, online event where you’ll have the opportunity to meet and connect with women from all around the world.
You’ll also discover how you can consciously create a network of support and learn practical ways to avoid burnout, handle stress, and boost your resilience as a leader.
To read all about the conference and book your ticket, click here: https://onewomanconference.co.uk/
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