The Basic Qualities of Collaboration

In every area of human endeavor, leaders are understanding better and better how to support the healthy development of the individual while building relationships that further the mission and effectiveness of the group or organization. In both hierarchical as well as horizontal organizations, inspired leaders are discovering and practicing new approaches to organizational management that create a balance of organizational and individual growth and development.

While a science of collaboration is still as of yet undefined, practice in many fields are leading towards a common view of the basic guiding principles.

In future posts, we will be elaborating on these principles and sharing insights, tools and skills to support healthy collaborative working.

At its core, collaboration requires a commitment to a common vision, shared values and clear goals.

Collaboration requires that individuals are empowered to take initiative and step into leadership roles according to their capacities.

Collaboration requires having clear roles and responsibilities for the people involved and ways of supporting individuals to be successful in their roles.

Collaboration requires the building of safe space and trust within and between groups. Trust is built through transparency, communication and consistency, as well as tolerance and forgiveness.

Collaboration requires open mindedness towards other points of view, experiences, contributions and styles and the practice of equanimity in relation to one’s own feelings and to the actions of others.

Collaboration requires ongoing reflection by individuals involved (in the form of self-reflection) and by groups (in the form of conscious review of intentions, processes and interactions).

Collaboration requires an interest by each individual in the growth and development of the other individuals involved in the group. This requires the individuals to be sincerely interested in understanding others and accepting that each person is on their own unique path of development.

Collaboration requires individuals to understand that the health of a group or organization depends on the health of the individuals involved and to be committed to finding ways that both the individual and group can grow simultaneously.

Both teacher, staff and volunteers leaders in Waldorf Education regularly face these challenges of working together  in our organizations. There are many tools available to help us navigate them -- from learning to clarify values and create shared vision, to sharing biographical work, to hygienic communication techniques, to learning new ways of self and group reflection through meeting review and individual contemplative practice.  There are a vast array of resources to help us.  -MS