The Accountability of Collaboration

Stay in your lane! Teams can achieve impressive success without collaboration. The recipe is simple: work hard, ensure competence, and be nice. As long as everyone makes their contribution, business gets done and, often, the results are good. Greatness, however, is rarely achieved without a commitment to share ideas and resources. But inviting a teammate into your lane means having to be accountable for the overlap. It’s harder work. We all drive differently when there’s a passenger onboard.

Begin with the generous question: What do you need most from me to thrive in your role? Depending on the stage of the team’s lifespan, the answer might have critical impact. Consider these typical scenarios:

Simplified Team Clock

A newly formed team: “I need you to fully understand our mission and make sure your day-to-day words and actions are true to our organizational values.”

An established team: “I need to trust you’ll communicate with transparency and follow through with the aspects of your job that affect the rest of us.”

An innovating team: “I need you to have the courage to think differently and value the perspectives of others. While we may have the same destination, there may be many paths to get there.”

A changing team: “I need you to find a way to let go of the way is used to be and embrace our new circumstances.”

Each of these examples move the team forward through the action of accountability. If we choose not to ask the generous question, we can seek comfort in the safety of hard work, competence, and kindness. True collaboration, however, shuns safety for the risk of considering the needs of your teammates.