Don’t go it alone | Collaborating as a leader

I was at a breakfast networking event this morning, with the Northern Young Professionals Network, and heard from two local leaders on their journeys.

Two different speakers. Two different stories. Yet, both had an underlying lesson. Collaborating with partners. Each recognised the need for partners-in-crime and for good relationships with stakeholders.

Collaborating. Why?

There are two trains of thought in working with others. One, is the belief of relying on yourself as the only person you can always depend on.

“Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.” – Stephen Covey.

For some, solitude is preferred. But, at what cost?

“I’m not interested so much in collaboration. You see that from the history of my albums.” – Yoko Ono.

The second is the collaborating. Finding inspiring people to work with, and empowering and inspiring others to do the same. History can tell us of the sheer benefits of both collaborating and working alone. From Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne founding Apple, to Samsung’s founder Byung-Chull Lee starting alone. There are many perks to both, but we’ll focus on partnering.

Don’t go alone.

When you take the journey alone, the bank of motivation isn’t there to reinforce bad days. When product test 73 fails, who’s there to kick us back into gear for number 74. The one that might be worth taking to market.

The key thing I got from the two speakers, James Riggall and Vanessa Cahoon, was how much their organisational success relied on good relationships with others. James, the serial entrepreneur from Enterprize, collaborates with multiple levels of government, innovative young people, and a wide range of stakeholders. Vanessa, from CityProm relies on local government support, and works closely with her several hundred member organisations.

The simple fact is that, each has a symbiotic relationship with others. Their ability to network, partner, and collaborate is what brought them to where they are now. Getting funding from angel investors, government, and industry. Keeping members happy and satisfied. Collaborating with employees and boards. Each requires the innate skill to want to partner with others.

Ideas come and go, but support networks are what drive those ideas to market. Getting feedback, motivating each other, and goal setting (and achieving) is far easier with others.

Passion is contagious. Leverage it.

The takeaway.

We don’t live in a world of isolation. In times past, communities collaborated to produce and share goods. Now, in a globalised market, there are more stakeholders than ever.

A quick search on LinkedIn shows 660 jobs in stakeholder engagement in Australia. Indeed brings back 2,451. And it’s no wonder. Big businesses through to small start-ups and non-government organisations see value in partnering with others. When another organisation has the same aim as you, why not achieve it together? Once we do that, we increase our resource pool, and our available network.

It makes a lot of sense to seek partners. To collaborate and work together with whomever you can. After all, we are all human, and we can’t all be that bad.