Collaboration: don’t leave it to chance!

Collaboration: don’t leave it to chance!

2023. February 20.

It is the responsibility of the team leader to realize the potential of the team. How can the leader increase the team’s chances of success? Team building the professional way, based on the recipe of team building expert Dr. Eunice Parisi-Carew.

Collaboration is typically a matter of trial and error in today’s companies, but luck is often missing, says Dr. Eunice Parisi-Carew, a team building expert at Ken Blanchard Companies. The result: dramatically reduced productivity as pseudo-teams struggle with tasks that could be done more effectively if team members worked better together.

According to Parisi-Carew: „The business world is so complex and competitive that organizations that want to succeed in the future need to be nimble, adaptable and innovative. This is only possible if we can capitalize on different perspectives and collaborate effectively across different departments.”

„But the opposite is happening: we are so entrenched in a hierarchy where bosses are in control and people management is seen as a means to an end that flexible collaboration can be a real challenge.”

We should look at the team as a unit – not as a collection of individuals

„The biggest challenge is that we typically think in terms of individuals even when we talk about a team. We don’t see the team as a discrete unit with its own patterns of behavior. Instead, we see it as a group of individuals.”

„We need to see the unit as a whole, not as individuals! This is where leaders fail. For example, if someone is misbehaving in the team, rather than expecting the team to sort it out, leaders feel the urge to intervene, to single out the individual and so deal with the disruptive behavior. This approach seems obvious, but it deprives the team of the opportunity to process the experience, to benefit from it and to develop as a team.

Individuals must be ready to share

„At the individual level, collaboration means taking mutual responsibility for each other and sharing the workload while working towards the same goal. Collaboration requires a willingness to share our experience, to step in and help out our teammates, and to cross organizational boundaries.”
„The fact is that everyone has problems when a team gets going,” explains Parisi-Carew. „Sure, members are excited, but at the same time, members wonder if it’s good for them to collaborate and share their knowledge openly. Knowledge is power and they are afraid to pass it on – especially in organizations that reward individual performance.” 

Recipe for team leaders

Most managers know that they can gather the six most productive individuals, put them in a team, and then watch teamwork stall at low productivity. So what can we do as leaders to increase the team’s chances of success?

According to Parisi-Carew, a good place to start is by gathering team members who have strong team skills. By bringing together individuals with different skills, you can develop a champion team from this group rather than trying to bring champions together.

If we as leaders want to improve our ability to get our people to work together, Parisi-Carew suggests focusing on three areas. 

  1. Build a strong foundation! We need to know where we are going – we need a vision of excellence, and then a set of agreements that includes both the goals and how we will achieve them. According to Parisi-Carew: „Many teams are put together with the understanding that they only know that much: ‘You need a team to do this.’ So often teams are put together in a rush, without a clear mandate. This typically results in a team that has no clear mission or goals. Many teams get off to a bad start because they don’t know where they are going or why they should be a team in the first place.”
  2. Manage conflict effectively! The second big problem is that many leaders are unable to manage disagreements and conflicts when they arise. Decision-making also depends heavily on how we deal with disagreements. What to do when there is disagreement and how should the team decide on the way forward? According to Parisi-Carew: „In quite a few respects, it is of paramount importance that we manage conflict well. If we avoid disagreements, the team is likely to fall apart or become a stale group. But if managed well, conflict can raise levels of trust, creativity and ownership.”
  3. Think of yourselves as „serving”! Finally, the responsibility of leading a team includes being willing to see ourselves as serving the team’s development. To do this, we must constantly keep in mind that the team must reach the end goal, and it is our role to help our team along the way. Parisi-Carew adds, „The job of an effective team leader is to assess what the team as a whole needs. So in the beginning, when the team doesn’t know what it’s doing yet, as leaders we need to provide a lot of direction. The leader’s job is to train the team to be autonomous and self-directed, not to personally do the job.”

„This is a huge shift in our approach; it’s the reason why so many managers have difficulty managing teams. They insist on the power they cling to, but as long as they do, the team can never become truly autonomous and productive. If we monitor and track the change in the needs of the teams, and give a lot of support, encouragement and recognition later on, in addition to the high direction offered at the beginning, we have a much better chance of success.”


The most successful companies use teams effectively. The team outperforms the congregation of individuals – if it is created properly. Good teamwork and collaboration impacts productivity, work ethic and creativity.

Parisi-Carew also points out that a new generation has entered the labor market that can and expects collaboration.

„Firms that are not prepared to harness the power of teams are disappointing younger workers who are used to working collaboratively to get things done. And that can add up to a shock when trying to force collaborative employees into a hierarchical structure.”

Do not let this happen in your company! Capitalize on the benefits of collaboration. Help your leaders – make sure they know how to turn groups of people into effective teams!

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