Authenticity Creates Trust; Trust Accelerates Collaboration

Collaboration is indeed the business opportunity of the decade, promising to energize your organization while making more effective use of your precious assets.  My Cisco colleague Carl Wiese and I wrote The Collaboration Imperative to help organizations “operationalize” collaboration and capture these gains. Our goal wasn’t to write a “theory” book, but rather one that drills down into specific actions, with concrete examples of how to put collaboration to work in the real world.

As Carl noted in a previous post, effective collaboration is a function of aligning culture, process and technology.  But how do you do that?   Here is a one example from that’s featured in Chapter Three of the book: Collaborative teams work best when they’re made up of people who communicate openly. Collaboration technologies, especially video, make it easy to reach people across an organization and around the world.  Anyone who has traded their economy-class airline seat in favor of a Telepresence meeting knows the powerful benefits of collapsing space and time with an engaging video meeting.  However, as we cross departmental, cultural and time-zone boundaries, collaboration puts our personal communication skills to the test.

As we increasingly interact virtually, we work more and more with people we don’t know or have a long history with; they may actually work in a different company and teams may come and go in rapid succession.  Establishing rapport – quickly – is one of the most important aspects of successful collaboration, and it starts with communicating authentically.

Do you know what your authentic communication style is?  Do your peers and colleagues know how you make decisions?  Can you quickly convey your strengths and weaknesses to people?  The more you share about your authentic style with your collaboration partners, the faster you can achieve trust with them.  Open communications starts with you.

Here is how to get started.  Click here to take a quick online assessment to discover your authentic communication style (Once on the page, click on the green “Take Survey” button”). This confidential assessment is a bit like the Myers-Briggs test and provides you with a customized profile of your unique communication style; it reveals how you naturally process information, and how you prefer to deliver that information to others.

Most importantly, the assessment provides a simple vocabulary to communicate your style to others. Are you conceptual or analytical?  An introvert or an extrovert? Do you prefer to communicate information in a linear or nonlinear fashion?  Complete this quick assessment to find out. Then ask your team to take the same assessment and start sharing your styles.

You’ll be happily surprised at how much friction can be removed from human relationships, especially virtual ones, when we simply share our authentic style with colleagues and begin understanding each other better. I’m convinced that 90% of human conflict in business isn’t personal in intent; it occurs because we all naturally make decisions differently. By sharing our authentic style of communicating and making decisions, you can diffuse a lot of unnecessary friction and built trust faster.

My authentic communication style is:  Conceptual, Deductive, Introverted and Non-Linear.  I’m best at brainstorming. I come to conclusions quickly. I gain energy by thinking on my own, and I can be unpredictable in where I take ideas.  Who are you?

Chapter Three of The Collaboration Imperative delves deeply into the this topic — I look forward to your feedback after reading it.

 


Collaboration: The Business Opportunity of the Decade

It’s clear from our conversations with customers around the world that we’re in the early stages of a fundamental shift in business. It’s the decade of collaboration. A time of flash communities and knowledge accidents. A time when video, virtualization, social media and mobility influence everything we do. A time when employees from any remote corner of an organization can provide the spark for your next important innovation.

But only if you set the stage for collaboration.

Building a collaborative organization isn’t easy. It takes a transformative approach to culture, processes and technology—and an unwavering commitment from top to bottom. Do it and you will be rewarded with an energized organization that can adapt quickly to changing markets and deliver tangible results.

That’s why I recently partnered with my colleague, Ron Ricci, Cisco’s Vice President of Corporate Positioning, to write The Collaboration Imperative, a book that dives into the culture, process and technology dimensions of successful collaboration. It offers practical tips and strategies for making companies more collaborative and looks at how some of the world’s leading companies are sharpening their collaboration edge.

We also introduce some surprising facts. For example, did you know that….

  • The biggest barriers to collaboration are not technical—they are cultural and organizational in nature
  • Collaboration can’t be deployed; it must be embraced
  • It’s not enough to change roles; you have to change rewards
  • Collaboration requires stronger personal communications skills
  • Although collaboration is about decentralizing, it has to start at the top
  •  The average return on collaboration is four times a company’s initial investment

Leave a comment to  share your experiences as you embrace collaboration. Which best practices are you most proud of? What issues are you facing? And what lessons have you learned? Let’s keep the conversation going…