There is absolutely no doubt that there's a new kid on the block when it comes to workplace behaviour, particularly if you are looking to thrive at a leadership level. The days of hiding away in a corner office, gazing out the window in splendid isolation, are well and truly over. To forge a successful path, it's all about engagement with others and understanding that there truly is no 'I' team.
Welcome to the 'WE' space - and the theory that lies behind commercial collaboration. Here's how you can use it to take you from 'me' to said 'we' - and the ability to influence more, succeed as a team player and future-proof your career.
1. Be willing to share credit when credit is due: the temptation to take all the glory for your team's success can be overwhelming when you have led a project. Understanding that everybody needs to be given accolades, no matter how insignificant their part in the eventual win may seem to have been is critical. This leads to greater engagement and therefore trust. In return, team members feel empowered and more likely to give a better performance - and future projects will be even more successful, leading to larger rewards for you.
2. Be brave enough to share your weaknesses: too often in the workplace, we see admitting a lack of knowledge or understanding as admitting to failure. What it is in actuality is a form of strength, because it shows our peers and our subordinates that we are willing to seek help and show vulnerability. This engenders trust, and encourages others in return to admit the same issues. The end result? If there is a problem on a task or project, an individual is far more likely to speak up sooner and avert major disaster. You may also actually learn something new.
3. Appreciate the value of intellectual currency: not everything is about the bottom line. Focusing inwards and seeing only your own KPIs and bonus targets means that you miss out on banking others' knowledge. It's rapidly becoming apparent that skills are an increasingly valuable currency for both corporates and entrepreneurs alike. Suggest to a team mate that you 'swap' a skill for a skill - teach each other something you previously had no knowledge of. It will stand you in good stead.
4. Stand up and be counted: part of teamwork is the ability to change situations that are not acceptable. If you think that an idea could be bettered, or that your workplace has unacceptable conditions for members of your team, then don't just sit there. You have a responsibility as a leader to make decisions, to start change, and to be a part of the whole - and that involves shaking the tree at times. Collaboration rather than isolation can be uncomfortable in the short term, but the long term rewards benefit the team rather than the individual.
5. Become a part of the leadership funnel: sponsoring is increasingly important to stop the talent drain we are currently seeing in corporate. Taking on the responsibilities of a sponsor means you are willing to engage with and give back to a potential leader. This is not only a selfless action; it's also something that will assist your own career path, as it shows that you are a team player.
6. Finally - don't be afraid to network: yes, you may see it as a dirty word; but if you network effectively it can provide a truly collaborative workspace. Professional networks are essential to give support, encouragement and knowledge along the upwards progression path. This isn't the whole 'have as many people as possible in your email list' type of network; but like-minded thinkers who understand what you want to achieve and whom you want to support in kind.
Teamwork and collaboration are a way to stabilise and stand firm in a shifting and unsteady commercial environment. That 'me, me, me' place you're in at the moment?
It doesn't get you very far.