Last week I had the great opportunity to hold a lecture at SMU with the Asia Terms students of the University of St.Gallen. A group of 60 exchange students are joining 60 students from SMU and working together on consulting projects from a wide range of corporate partners. This is an excellent opportunity for the students to get exposed to the work environment and to collaborate with their peers in cross-cultural teams.
In my experience, a critical leadership skill to deliver successful projects is to facilitate great collaboration. A group of highly skilled people do not guarantee success; especially if they focus on their own benefits and are not supporting the overall team. When teamwork is smooth and 'oiled', then the team can be high-performing and deliver any change they are set out to.
Where to start with collaborative success? There are four simple areas.
First, my favourite, is creating win-win situations. Starting with considering the other party's situation and win before having the courage to share our own win. In a small team it is important to keep this balance right. It is a mindset to stay curious about the diverse thoughts and experiences each team member can bring to the team. With the students we had a great discussion about how they can leverage the diversity in their teams and stay open and courageous when working together with their corporate partners.
The teams then worked on their team principles. What do we value in how we are working together? What are the killers for collaboration? The initial conversation in the team about their principles is so important to get to know each other and set some ground rules. When in conflict, the principles help to bring the conversation back on track. And for sure, the team principles are continuously improved and polished.
Lastly, it is important to regularly reflect not only on what the team is delivering; it is equally important to review the way of working. What are the things we need to stop doing, doing more of, or start doing? This contributes to a better understanding within the team and hence it is better to create win-win situations. In this context, teams should also connect on a social level - leave work behind for a while and simply enjoy time together.
Thanks to Stefan Morkoetter and his team for making this possible! More information about the HSG Asia Term in Singapore.
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Tim is a change practitioner in the area of innovation and excellence. He is working with teams to accelerate innovation, collaboration and agility.