4 Ways to Create a Culture of Collaboration

March 1, 2017

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

Meet Deb

According to a PWC survey of CEO’s, collaboration ranks third on the list of most important skills in terms of value to the organization.

The good news is that a culture of collaboration can be established and nurtured by the leaders in the business. As a business leader, you can create this culture of collaboration…and thereby strengthen your organization in upper tier issues.

When we talk about collaboration, it’s not just teamwork. It is teams that really work – that generate remarkable results.

How do you create this collaborative culture within your organization?

Model the Leadership

Leadership modeling is essential. In John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he talks about the law of the picture. In that, he says, “People do what people see.”

Leaders want effective collaboration, teamwork, and communication. But the fact is, we don’t get what we want. We get what we are. We get what we model.

In order to have a team that is very strong in collaboration, those at the highest level in the organization must collaborate.

Some companies are naturally collaborative. It is part of the company culture. It is spotlighted, celebrated, and expected.

In other organizations, you can tell there are collaboration issues – where employees are not working well together. It is an obvious issue – and it also shows on the organization’s bottom line.

Stop the Competition

In some organizations, there is a natural competitiveness that happens at the very top, and it has a trickle-down effect on every department in the organization. Instead of trying to complete each other to collectively do great work, they compete with each other. In this scenario, completing builds and competing destroys.

Remember the Bob Newhart TV show? Bob was a TV psychologist. There was one episode where a lady came to him for help. He said, “Okay, I’m going to give you two words for that. I will help you. Stop it.”

It was humorous, yet profound advice.

If you’re competing, stop it. Stop competing with people inside your organization. Instead, focus on completing them. The fact is, each person has strengths that are not all the same. Instead they are complementary. When you focus on collaborating and completing, you pull in all those strengths to do something you could not do yourself.

We live in a culture that emphasizes and rewards competition – in sports, academics, and in other venues. TV shows are built around the idea of voting people off the island.

But if you lead an organization, your goal should not be getting your people off the island, but rather keeping them there as a valued member of your team.

Protect the Team

The best military units – like the Navy Seals, for example – are highly communicative, collaborative, and operate with a mantra of having the back of their comrades. Are you operating like a Navy Seal within your organization? Do you have the backs of your employees and co-workers?

Agree on the Goal

Collaboration doesn’t mean you agree to everything. It means you agree on the goal. It means you agree on the process, but you don’t necessarily agree on how you’re going to do everything. The key is to strive for the same goal.

A football team has an offense and a defense. They do things on opposite sides of the ball, but the ultimate goal is to have more points on the scoreboard than the other team.  They are striving for the same goal from different and necessary perspectives.

If you are having collaboration issues within your organization, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I as a leader modeling collaboration, communication, and teamwork?
  2. Am I setting or allowing a culture of competition or completion within the organization?
  3. Does my team know I “have their backs”?
  4. Are we working toward well-communicated goals with an agreed-upon plan?


Mike Harbour is CEO of Harbour Resources. In a world screaming for leadership, Mike believes leadership is the difference maker and the deal breaker. It’s how we grow organizations. It’s how we impact lives. But, as you also know, leadership cannot be an idea we simply talk about; leadership is the action we must live out.

Mike’s depth of leadership experience has tested his leadership ideas and philosophy while serving in the United States Army as a US Army Soldier/Officer and the healthcare industry. Building on this experience and success Mike has become a leading Founding Partner on the world-renowned John C Maxwell Team as a Certified Coach, Trainer, and Speaker.

Because of his action oriented style, Mike is sought out to lead projects and teams for the John Maxwell Team where he is a leader on the President’s Advisory Council, A Peer Teaching Partner sharing his experience with thousands of leaders around the globe and a leader for the John Maxwell Leadership Award where hundreds have been nominated and interviewed for the coveted leadership award.

He is a sought-after speaker for events, teams and organizations seeking results and change in the way their leaders lead.

Mike has spent the last 20 years helping companies build teams that drive results!

As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results.

She brings deep experience in leadership development, strategy, building high-performance teams, and global operations to her work.

Deb knows first-hand how strengths and leadership are keys to business effectiveness and growth. Her skills were honed through over two decades as VP of Global Brand Operations for a large fashion accessory company in New York. In that senior corporate leadership capacity, Deb worked throughout the world to create and develop leaders, and to elevate team performance to world class. These teams now serve retailers in more than 80 countries, contributing to the growth of the company from $50M to well over $500M.

In 2008 and 2010 Deb was named one of the most influential women in business by LIBN and is a regular guest on radio and podcast shows.

Deb has shepherded the training of thousands and is a founding partner with her mentor leadership expert John C. Maxwell. Deb serves on Maxwell’s President Advisory Council and is a Peer Teaching Partner for his global team of 12,000 Coaches, Speakers and Trainers in 120 countries.

With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results.

Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.